RM50 million should be spent on providing free Wifi

by Lim Guan Eng

Malaysians hope that Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak will heed the voice of the rakyat and Malaysian netizens to cancel the provision of free 1Malaysia email accounts and give free wifi instead. Spending RM50 million on duplicating efforts of Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, etc to provide free email accounts is typical profile of a Barisan Nasional government being penny wise pound foolish.

Giving free email accounts is not the most important service in the world. Somehow the government is missing the wood from the trees.

Just like the billions of ringgit Bumi shares scandal where RM52 billion worth of shares which were supposed to be given to ordinary Malays and Bumiputeras went missing. Instead of setting up a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) to serve public interest by investigating and taking action against the culprits responsible for running of RM52 billion worth of shares, the BN government appears more interested in setting up a RCI over some dubious sex video tapes by individuals seeking political vengeance.

Why focus on providing something that is already free? This is just like selling ice to the Eskimos. Focus on providing free wifi or improving broadband speed, quality and reliability. The government should stop the monopoly given to certain companies and should instead open up the industry to competitive bidding so that users can enjoy better connectivity on par with our neighbouring countries.

The Performance Management and Delivery Unit (Pemandu) should also avoid charges by some net citizens of being deceitful following the quick amendments of details relating to the 1Malaysia email project. There was a big difference on April 19 in its website and April 18, as it is now called a private sector initiative when it was previously listed as a government initiative.

Since April 19, the description of the RM50 million project read: “The 1Malaysia Email project which features the domain name of ‘’ is a private sector initiative led by Tricubes Berhad to provide a unique and official email account and user ID for interested citizens of Malaysia.”

Pemandu should come clean and explain this glaring discrepancy that raises questions about the clarity, certainty and reliability of the information released to the public.

Najib had announced the project on April 20, saying all Malaysians aged 18 and over would be given a free account to allow for direct and secure communications between citizens and the government.

There are concerns both about privacy and security of those using these email accounts. There are those who fear not only that their communications may be monitored and intercepted but also whether any messages or transactions made are reliable and trust-worthy. That is probably the reason why about a day after it was launched, there were more than 40,000 Facebook users joining in a virtual protest against the project run by Tricubes Bhd, which is currently in danger of being delisted from Bursa Malaysia for financial irregularities.

Worse is the latest report in Malaysiakini that even though the email account is free, some of the services are not free but fees will be imposed. Instead of clarifying this issue, the BN government should quickly cut its losses and disassociate itself with this private initiative from a company under a “financial cloud”.

DAP reiterates our appeal to the state government to focus on providing free wifi and improving broadband speed at affordable rates at international standards. – The Rocket