Saturday, December 19, 2020

Internet Infrastructure? Lil' Napoleons memerlukan 'Ang Pows' dulu

MM Online:

Local authorities the biggest obstacle to internet infrastructure rollout in Malaysia, says telco CEO

The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission is seeking to encourage state governments to make telecommunications a third utility. — Bernama pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 18 — Local authorities and bureaucracy sometimes hold up the progress in the installation and rolling out of the necessary infrastructure for internet connectivity in Malaysia, while individuals seeking to make a cut financially also hamper the pace of strengthening digital connectivity, the CEO of a telecommunications firm said today.

Afzal Abdul Rahim, CEO of TIME dotCom Berhad, asserted that political will at the state level is also closely tied to “ancillary business ambitions”, saying that such business interests may come into play even as the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) seeks to encourage state governments to make telecommunications a third utility.

“So while MCMC has been going on an above board objective, to speak to the state governments and convince them that you should open up, the moment MCMC leaves, the telco CEO gets called from the konco-konco (friends) around the mentri besar to say ‘Actually how can we make money from this, you all are making so much money, surely we can make some cuts here and there’,” he said.

“This is the reality on the ground, it’s this irritating business ambition culture surrounding the state governments which is causing this problem,” he said.

He said telcos have to deal with different rules under different local authorities and states for planning permissions and permits for infrastructure work which in some instances would hinder progress.

“Yes, there are things that the telcos can do better, but the single biggest hindrance to rollout of network infrastructure in Malaysia is the local authorities, and the behaviour, it is the ancillary business ambitions that is tied to the koncos around the MB,” he said.

He made these comments during an online media briefing by MCMC on the first quarterly report of the country’s five-year national digital infrastructure plan Jalinan Digital Negara (Jendela).

Following Jendela’s August 29 launch by the prime minister, MCMC chairman Dr Fadhlullah Suhaimi Abdul Malek shared updates on efforts to have telecommunications recognised as a “third utility”, or a public utility apart from water supply and electricity.

He noted that water and electricity are currently prerequisites before any property development can be approved due to their status as utilities, while infrastructure for telecommunications would come in after people start moving in to the developments as telecommunications is yet to officially be regarded as a third utility.

“That’s why you find many times in new housing areas, this will be a problem,” he said.

In highlighting the importance of making telecommunications a third utility, Dr Fadhlullah noted that the approval of the local authorities for the right to erect a telecommunications tower or to lay fibre optic cables is required even in rural areas, instead of just urban and suburban areas.

He noted several examples however of how local authorities had quickly given approval to expedite the process to improve internet infrastructure in an area, such as in Tanah Merah where approval was given in mere weeks, but said such “shortcuts” of the existing process cannot be sustained forever and need to be made part of the system to speed up the process.

“That’s why it’s highly important, highly significant to make telecommunications a third utility so that approvals are already institutionalised, so that we can get it through in the shortest period of time,” he said, adding that make telecommunications a precondition for developments can also bring in investments into a state or an area.

Dr Fadhlullah said that the process to have telecommunications recognised as a third utility cannot be imposed on state governments or local councils via a federal government decision or even a decision from the Ministry of Housing and Local Government, but would instead require engagement with state governments due to the country’s framework under the Federal Constitution.

“Each state has its own governance, therefore, it’s a lot of legwork. We are trying our level best to make this happen within 12 months from the time we announced. It’s a very stretch target but a target nevertheless,” he said.


  1. Why so long winded and indirect way to highlight plain corruption and abuse of power ?

  2. Deep rooted rent-seeking mentality by creating developmental obstacles to claim manna.

    Nothing changes since 10yrs ago when I encountered these mfers to develop remote education for the orang asli around Cameron Highlands.

  3. The Kapitan Little Napolean aka Boh Lam Phar Wee KHAT Siong suck up to the members of MASA who want to Ali Baba cable repair jobs to foreign vessels.....and mess up the cabotage policy that Anthony Loke had corrected...

    No Malaysian ships with proper specs to fix undersea cables, says MyIX chairman
    The Edge Malaysia
    December 14, 2020

    WHILE the Malaysia Shipowners’ Association (MASA) chairman Datuk Abdul Hak Md Amin says there are four Malaysian flagged and certified submarine cable repair vessels currently available for use by the industry, tech companies that own the undersea cables beg to differ.

    “There are no Malaysian flagged vessels that can undertake repairs of undersea cables according to the best practices recommended by the ICPC (International Cable Protection Committee),” says Chiew Kok Hin, chairman of the Malaysia Internet Exchange (MyIX).

    MyIX is an integrator between local and international internet service providers. Submarine cables are crucial as 95% of the world’s voice and data traffic rely on them to be transmitted. These undersea cables, meanwhile, are invariably linked to foreign companies such as Alibaba, Hitachi, NTT, Microsoft, IBM and Bridge Data Centres, among others.

    These assertions by Chiew come on the back of a dispute between MASA and tech players brought about by the need for repairs to submarine cables — a job for highly specialised vessels.

    While MASA claims there are Malaysian vessels capable of handling the requirements of the tech companies, the players themselves — including Facebook, Google and Microsoft, among others — say there are no such local ships available.

    MASA has lauded the cabotage policy that protects domestic shipping companies from foreign competition, and says many of the vessels sought for use are Singaporean flagged and owned, meaning there is little benefit for Malaysian shipping companies.

    Nevertheless, former transport minister Anthony Loke Siew Fook had approved an exemption for submarine cable repair vessels in March 2019, after complaints from various parties such as the tech giants about Malaysian vessels not having the requisite specifications to undertake such specialised jobs.

    However, current Transport Minister Wee Ka Siong revoked the exemption for cabotage policy for submarine cable repair vessels on Nov 13, 2020. The minister did not reply to requests for an interview.

    The tech giants sought to write to Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin on Nov 20, seeking his intervention.

    In a meeting between Wee and the tech companies a couple of weeks ago, one of the companies threatened to review its cable investments in Malaysia, which could work out to a huge loss for the country.