Friday, October 02, 2015

My message to Salleh Said Keruak: Do not talk, walk! Tell us what happened to USP since 2013!

Media statement by DAP ADUN for Kampung Tunku Lau Weng San on 2nd October 2015 in Petaling Jaya:
Recent remarks made by the newly appointed Communications and Multimedia Minister, Datuk Seri Salleh Said Keruak, in responding to statement by the DAP Parliamentary Leader, Sdr Lim Kit Siang on issues of slow internet speed and coverage highlighted by a recent report released by content delivery network services firm Akamai Technologies Inc., does not help fellow Malaysians to understand how his Ministry will overcome the various shortcomings that our country is currently facing in providing faster, wider and cheaper internet services to Malaysians.

When the Minister is responding to issues, he is expected to inform the people what are the ongoing action plans that have been and will be taken by the authority, notably the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC). Instead, Salleh’s blogposts are more rhetorical than factual although he admitted that Malaysia is lagging behind than many Asian countries in terms of average internet speed and coverages, including nations like Sri Lanka and Thailand, something which he cannot deny anyway.

This is what Salleh Said Keruak said: “Lim Kit Siang just talks about speed. Malaysia’s focus is speed, coverage and affordability. We want to ensure that by 2020 at least 95% of Malaysians will have access to the Internet. And we also want to ensure that at least 50% of urban areas and 20% of rural areas have broadband speeds of 100 Mbps.”

Let us be frank with Salleh: Firstly, Malaysia is neither developing fast enough in terms of internet speed, coverage and affordability. Secondly, Malaysians are not interested on how bad we are compared to other countries. Indeed, we are saddened and disappointed when Malaysia is ranked behind Sri Lanka and Thailand. Thirdly, do not compare Malaysia with some other third world countries and tell Malaysians how better we are. Race to the top, not to the bottom. Fourthly, as Minister, tell Malaysians what you are going to do to give Malaysians faster, wider and cheaper internet connection.

I would like to refer the Minister to an article entitled “Lower broadband rates may be a pipe dream” written by Ng Wai Mun in Focus Malaysia dated 28th Feb 2015, that the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) chairman Datuk Seri Dr Halim Shafie had been reported as saying "MCMC will be carrying out a review of retail rates and will work together with the industry to develop broadband packages for the long-term benefit of end-users."

The report further says that various research studies have shown there is a strong correlation between broadband speed and take-up with the magnitude of a country's gross domestic product (GDP) growth. It also says that the 2012 International Telecommunication Union (ITU) report on the "impact of broadband on the economy" that an increase of 10% in broadband penetration will contribute 0.7% points to GDP growth.

The current broadband take-up rate is relatively low because of high rates charged by the telecommunications operators. Consumers pay high prices for slow connection speed. For example, Singapore's Singtel offers 1 Gbps at S$55 and S$100. In contrast, a 5 MBps broadband plan for a household in Malaysia cost RM150 and above. More businesses are embracing the internet as platform to expand their business but failure to provide such logistic support will retard economic growth.

Last but not least, the Minister should also explain to Malaysians what the government have been doing with Universal Service Provision Fund (USP Fund). The Universal Service Provision Fund (USP Fund) was established under the provision of Section 204 of the Communications and Multimedia Act (CMA) 1998 which is controlled and operated by MCMC.

According to 2008 MCMC’s annual report on USP Fund, the fund serves sole purpose of implementing network facilities, network services and applications services in the underserved areas and communities. All licensees except for Content Applications Services Provider (CASP) license holders, whose weighted net revenue derived from the designated services exceeds Minimum Revenue Threshold of RM2 million for the previous calendar year shall contribute 6% of their weighted net revenue to the USP Fund.

It is sad and disappointing that the latest MCMC’s annual report on USP is not available online. So, my fundamental question to the Minister, besides what he needs to answer Sdr Lim Kit Siang, is what has happened to the billions of ringgit MCMC collected from licensees in the name of USP since 2013? Would he care to give us an honest answer?

Lau Weng San
ADUN Kampung Tunku

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