Wednesday, December 14, 2011

IT Bill may be dumped after outrage

The controversial Computing Professionals Bill 2011, meant to regulate certification of computer professionals and firms, may not see the light of day.

Faced with mounting outrage by Malaysian professionals since the draft surfaced online last week, the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (Mosti) has conceded the proposal could be abandoned altogether.

The deputy minister, Datuk Fadillah Yusof, said stakeholders can propose an alternate mechanism to help boost the local industry.

“We are facilitating requests by industry players and the academia. Nothing is firm yet. This is only the first sessions to get feedback," he told reporters.

“This body can be any mechanism depending on what the stakeholders want. You must have certain standards or you won’t be up to par with international standards. The government is not controlling but only facilitating."

The ministry held an open day at its headquarters yesterday to gauge feedback from IT professionals.

However, the panellists received a rude awakening from frustrations expressed by the participants.

Datuk Halimah Badioze Zaman from the National Professors Council, alternate chairman of the Higher Education Ministry’s task force on ICT human resource Prof Zaharin Yusoff, Association of the Computer and Multimedia Industry, Malaysia (Pikom) president Shaifubahrim Saleh and Malaysian National Computer Confederation (MNCC) president Datuk Raja Malik Mohamed were members of the panel.

However, ministry representatives were missing from the panel. Ministry officials later told The Malay Mail it was not responsible for the Bill but only a vehicle to drive it forward.

The Bill aimed to establish a board known as the Board of Computing Professionals (BCP), which would certify the quality of individuals and firms to tender for the government’s Critical National Information Infrastructure (CNII) projects.

According to the Bill, CNII projects dealt with Malaysia's “national economic strength or national image or national defence and security or government capability to function or public health and safety".

Yesterday, during the open day, various groups raised concerns over the ambiguous language used in the draft and what exactly was CNII.

Many also questioned why IT professionals were not represented in the Bill’s drafting and ldescribed the draft committee as an exclusive club.

The panellists kept reassuring the groups the Bill would not make registration compulsory and regulation was only confined to those involved in the CNII projects.

Shaifubahrim said the committee met more than 50 times over two-and-a-half years to revise the Bill for the interest of the stakeholders and providing an “opportunity” for public feedback.

“CNII is only a small aspect of the Bill and not big. We don’t need to harp on this because there will be more rounds for feedback after this. What matters is our national image."

Halimah also pleaded with the public to give the Bill a chance and forgo personal interests.

“You have to see it in a positive light. We are looking at this for the future. We have looked at this Bill for two-and-a-half years and you are looking at it just now," she said.

“We want you on board to help us."

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