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Computing Professionals Bill: Final Verdict

In what I hope is my last post about this ridiculous bill, I hope to ask and answer an important question I’m surprised no one has asked yet…

Why do we need such a bill?

In essence do we need to raise standards, or provide assurance to employers regarding hired professionals. I believe the answer is NO. It all stems from a brilliant book I read “start with Why” by Simon Sinek, and you catch his amazing TedTalk here. He goes on to say, that if you mess up the WHY of any action, no one will follow you, because “People don’t buy what you do, they buy Why you do it”

Now I understand that we’d always need to raise standards, and provide assurances, but in the greater scheme of things is it really that necessary to do it now, or can we expend our energies and effort elsewhere for the IT community to get the value from our actions. This should be at the core of the discussions, this is the WHY of the bill, if I don’t believe in the WHY of the bill, then there’s no need talk about the who, what,where and how.

If the objective of the bill isn’t agreed upon, then it doesn’t matter how we achieve the objective. I feel a lot of IT professionals have bypassed this and zoomed down immediately to the details, pointing out flaws in the bill and a lack of clarity and specifics, however I’m not even sold at the high level of the bill let alone the specifics, and I struggle to understand why the bill is around in the first place, let alone how it will achieve it’s WHY.

So let’s start with WHY?

MOSTI have mentioned that we ‘need’ this bill to:

1) Safeguard the interest of the country in terms of computing services.

Based on the wording of the bill, I presume safeguard is meant in relation to competency rather than safeguard from the prying eyes of Singaporean spies or something like that. I would like to know how many Rm1.8 million dollar Facebook Pages were done by incompetent IT companies, and why the 1Malaysia email program was given to a company who didn’t even run their own email infrastructure? In terms of competency I think IT professionals in this country are there, as long as you’re willing to pay the price for good people, you’d get good people. With the astronomical figures the government is paying for it’s IT projects and it still receives incompetent IT professionals, then something is definitely wrong with the way we source our IT projects.

More to the point, I don’t believe that IT projects and Infrastructure (even for Government projects) is bad. I believe that for the figures we pay, we could easily get a top notch IT delivery company (or even locally public listed companies) to deliver these projects. Heck, you can even call me, and I’ll sign everybody on the 1Malaysia email using Google Apps and charge the government $26/year (Google charges $25/year).

So the interest of the country need safeguarding, but obviously the competence of Malaysias Professionals are unquestionable at this point.

2) Enhance the value of the Profession as it will require minimum level of qualifications.

I’m happy to be in IT, and I’m happy to be an IT professional. I don’t need the government to enhance my value. Personally I don’t see how imposing this law would somehow make me feel more valuable, but that’s a HOW question. I don’t understand why IT professionals need to have their values enchanced, in the next few years I predict IT professionals will earn more than engineers.

3) Raise Professional standards by developing a code of conduct.

The IT industry has regulated itself pretty well. In most projects I deliver we require service providers to sign Non-Disclosure agreements (NDA) and so far everything has acted professionally. I work with the Card industry where we inject super-secure encryption keys onto card terminals, this is the security that can’t be compromised and so far nothing has happened…no security incidences reported. I personally believe the Professional standards of IT in this country is top-notch.

Secondly, I fail to see how having a code of conduct would increase the standards. Just because there is a code of conduct doesn’t mean anyone would follow it.

4) Review qualifications to serve as a guide and standards.

Let’s face it, if there’s one thing the Government isn’t …it’s fast. The Government is always perceived to be this super-slow entity that can’t move. How then is it going to serve as a guide of standards, particularly when the IT industry reinvents itself faster than any government official can chop a paper.

However, let’s take a step back and ask why do we need someone to review quality and standards. Shouldn’t the onus be on the customer to dictate standards?  How about certifications? Shouldn’t it be on the certification authority to dictate standards.

I’m an ABAP certified programmer (although I haven’t programmed it in a looong looong time), if SAP feels I’m qualified to program in ABAP who is anyone else to tell me otherwise. If Microsoft say I’m a certified professional, or Cisco say I’m a network administrator…who is anyone from the Government to tell me otherwise? Similarly, if I have 10 years experience as a network professional dealing in all manner of Infrastructure and networks, who is Cisco to say I’m no qualified. In in IT industry certification and experience go hand in hand, and recruiters know that a Cisco certificate or even an SAP certificate is not a guarantee of quality.

5) To Provide a level of assurance to employers of IT professionals.

There’s a whole host of companies in the MSC who have set up shop in Malaysia to fully utilize our IT professionals. We deliver the same quality from anywhere else in the world at a fraction of the price. An IT professional in Australia would cost 3-4 times more than a similarly qualified person here, because of this the IT industry is booming, since IT is the easiest to off-shore.

More to the point, people aren’t turned of by the quality of hires in Malaysia, they’re turned off by red-tape and government intervention such as this. I don’t understand why we need to provide a level of assurance when employers are flocking to set up shop in Malaysia.

6) Enhance the Supply of IT professionals in Malaysia

WHY do we need more IT professionals? We have a dearth of talent at the top not the bottom, what we need is to ramp up the Talent in Malaysia by nurturing what’s already here, entice what isn’t and grow future talent in the pipe. We have enough IT professionals and they’re good enough for now.

Plus, I can’t possibly phantom how this law would achieve this.

7) Serve as a central repository for all computing professionals in this country

Why? I don’t understand…why do we need a repository? So that I brag about how my name is on an database somewhere? My degree was from MMU, and MMU has a repository of graduates…and I guarantee no one has checked my name on the repository. If I ace an interview there is no need to check a repository.

So in conclusion, I can see no reason for the law, I’m not even sold on the WHY and it’s clear some of the objectives would never be met by the law , in short the Government even messed up the HOW.