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Friday, May 6, 2011

Truth and Lies about MyEmail

by Idris Jala

Since the 1Malaysia Email (an e-Government Entry Point Project in the ETP roadmap and henceforth referred to by its URL i.e. MyEmail) project was announced, there has been considerable criticism, controversy and misunderstanding arising from incorrect and false reports and commentaries.

While we have provided the facts, there appears to be certain quarters who refuse to accept the truth, preferring to 'spin' the facts in order to propagate their false assertions and portray the project negatively.

Here, I will detail the MyEmail project comprehensively and transparently in the hope that the public will get an undistorted perspective of the matter.

What is MyEmail?: Rationale, Concept and Business Model

Every year, the Government and related public agencies send out millions of correspondences to the rakyat such as quit rent notices, reminders to renew licences, assessment bills, traffic summons, EPF and income tax statements, and so forth. The cost of distributing these correspondences runs into millions of ringgit, annually.

Typically, five steps are needed before a correspondence goes out: (1) information needs to be extracted from the database (2) the information is then put into the respective correspondence formats (3) the correspondence is then printed (4) the correspondence is put into an envelope; and (5) a stamp is affixed before it is posted.

The total average cost for this entire process is about RM1.00 per correspondence, including system, paper and ink, and labour. It is easy to assume that the only cost is postage and conveniently forget that there are four other cost components.

In one of the ETP labs conducted in 2010, which included key members from the private and public sectors, and non-government organisations, it was envisaged that by sending these correspondences via email, we will save a lot of money for the Government. Instead of spending RM1.00 per correspondence, we can save about 50 sen, or in other words, halve the correspondence cost.

The cost saving is derived from the free email delivery. The remaining cost of 50 sen goes towards extracting the information required from the database and presenting them in the respective formats. Most agencies do not possess this system, also known as digital bill presentment solution. These two (out of the original five) cost components are not accounted for in the argument on 'free' email transport by other providers, espoused by the detractors.

However, it is necessary to ensure high security because the information involves personal data. People want their personal information and data to be kept confidential and secure. Hence, a critical success factor is that the email facility must be highly secure. This requirement is met with the one-time authentication using finger prints with the National Registration Department to ensure confidential information reach only the intended recipients. 

It was also agreed in the lab that the project be driven and funded by the private sector so that the Government can enjoy the operational savings without even having to invest in the development expenditure. Hence, the idea was incorporated into the ETP roadmap to solicit private sector response.

Facilitated by MAMPU and GITN, proposals were received from five private companies. A competitive selection process was undertaken to ensure high technical standards and the right business model is adopted at the lowest cost and highest quality. The evaluation team selected Tricubes Berhad based on these criteria. 

Tricubes will invest 100 per cent of the capital expenditure (capex) and operating expenditure (opex) required for this project. The Government will spend nothing in terms of investment and operating cost to run MyEmail.
Instead of sending correspondences to the rakyat in physical form, the Government will be able to send these via email and save millions of ringgit. Hardcopy correspondences will still be sent to those who do not have access to the Internet.

 Nonetheless, the operational savings for the Government will still be substantial. Simulations on four Government agencies alone showed an estimated cost savings in the region of at least RM200 million over 10 years.

Regardless of whether the Government agencies use MyEmail or otherwise, money will be spent to send correspondences to the rakyat. If the agencies use MyEmail, it will be on commercial terms just like paying for any other service. Therefore, it is wrong to say that paying for the service rendered is tantamount to the government financing Tricubes.

This service will be made available and marketed by Tricubes to Federal and State Governments and all public agencies independently. It is strictly voluntary: none of these units are obliged or forced to use the MyEmail facility, regardless of the fact that it will help them save money.

As such, the assertion of concessions for Tricubes by all or various public agencies is absolutely baseless.

In addition, Tricubes can also market the same service to private entities, which will subject it to the full force of open competition. In fact, this model is similar to a credit card or online banking operator who has to market its services to potential merchants (both private and public sectors) and card holders or online users.

In these models, operators earn their keeps by charging merchants on each transaction while costing card holders or online users nothing in most cases.

As MyEmail is strictly voluntary, its success depends on Tricubes' ability to secure high percentage of people who accept it and register voluntarily.

Why do we need MyEmail and who benefits?

MyEmail offers a multitude of benefits to various parties:

The Government benefits because though it does not spend any money in terms of investment and cost to operate the system, it can save about 50 per cent of the current cost of sending correspondences. In 10 years, the project can save the four agencies used in the simulations at least RM200 million. If more agencies are convinced of the benefits of the service, the potential savings could be higher than RM200 million over the same 10 year period.

Despite having stated this fact, there are a small group of detractors who keep asserting without basis that this project is a waste of public funds. How can this be a waste of public money when not a single sen of public money is or will be spent, while a lot of public money can potentially be saved?

By investing up to RM50 million in a secure and efficient email system and value-added services over five years, Tricubes can generate revenue through service charges to the Government, its agencies and private sector clients as well as users of their value-added services. The plain email service is free.

While the Government will spend money for the services rendered by Tricubes similar to other services it uses, the amount spent will be significantly less than what it is current spending.

The rakyat benefits because they get a free MyEmail account which also allows effective and secure email communication between the Government and the individual rakyat. If they do not want MyEmail, there is no problem. This is strictly voluntary.

For those who decide to subscribe to this service, they will get their correspondences from the Government instantaneously and will not have to wait for normal mail. In addition, if the rakyat has any query, they can also use MyEmail, if they so choose, to communicate with various Government departments and agencies.

Apart from the Federal Government, all State Governments and public agencies could potentially benefit if they decide to use MyEmail.

It should be noted that State Governments under Barisan Nasional or Pakatan Rakyat may choose to use the MyEmail facility, if they are interested in saving public money. If they are not interested in saving 50 sen per correspondence by using MyEmail and instead prefer to spend RM1.00 per correspondence, then they are neither obliged nor forced to use MyEmail.

Conclusion

The majority of Malaysians are keen to know the facts so that they can form their own conclusions. However, regardless of the amount of information we provide on this issue, there will be a small minority that has already made up their minds. Even after we publish these facts, this small group will continue to reject the facts and find ways and means to distort the truth.

We hope that the information provided above, together with the accompanying summary of 10 important facts on MyEmail and Frequently Asked Questions, will help the largely silent majority better understand the context and rationale behind MyEmail and reject the misrepresentations spewed by the vocal minority.

Senator Dato' Sri Idris Jala is the Minister in the Prime Minister's Department and CEO of Performance Management & Delivery Unit (PEMANDU). 

Lies and truth about MyEmail

Lie #1:
The Government is investing RM50 million in this project.

Truth #1:
Tricubes Berhad, a private company, is investing 100 per cent of the RM50 million. 

Commentary:


There are a lot of false and misleading reports, articles and comments in the social media that the Government is undertaking the RM50 million investment for this project. These reports are totally incorrect.
This investment for this project comes entirely from Tricubes. The management of Tricubes has committed that they will initially invest RM5.3 million and subsequently over the years, increase the total investment to RM50 million.

The Government is not investing a single sen in MyEmail. This fact has been categorically confirmed by the Prime Minister, PEMANDU and Tricubes.

The onus is on Tricubes to secure the initial and total financing required, either through equity or debt, failing which the commercial failure is entirely theirs.

The people who are bent on portraying this project negatively continue to ignore the truth and refuse to make any correction, and continue to mislead the general public into believing that the Government is investing RM50 million in MyEmail.

Lie #2:
The Government is forcing people to be registered to use MyEmail.

Truth #2:
No one is forced to use it. The service is completely voluntary. People who want to use the service just have to register. If they do not want to use it, they need not register. It is that simple, nothing more than that.
Commentary:


Despite numerous clarifications about this fact, the purveyors of these lies continue to make their baseless assertions. One must wonder why they continue to spread these lies and what their motives are for doing so.  

Lie #3:
The Government will use MyEmail to contact the people as a mechanism to win votes.

Truth #3:
MyEmail is owned by Tricubes and not owned by the Government. It has nothing to do with communicating with the public to campaign and win votes.

Commentary: 


As with any database (such as those owned by banks, telecommunication companies etc), all individual personal information and data is owned by the individual operators concerned. The use of such information can only be done with the prior agreement of individual operators concerned.
If this myth is to hold any water, then even Pakatan Rakyat state governments can use it a channel to propagate their messages as this service is similarly open to them. Clearly, this is a baseless assertion.   

Lie #4:
MyEmail is a waste of public money.

Truth #4:
MyEmail is not a waste of public funds as the Government will not spend even a single sen in terms of investment and operating cost to run the email system. On the other hand, it is estimated that the Government stands to save at least RM200 million over 10 years.

Commentary:
It is easy to assert that sending emails via other providers, sans the authentication process with the National Registration Department which may result in wrong recipients of confidential information, is free. These detractors choose to ignore there are still two out of the original five cost components that need to be accounted for, namely extracting the information required from the database and presenting them in the respective formats.

Lie #5:
MyEmail was 'awarded' to Tricubes to rescue a 'crony' company belonging to influential people connected with the Government.

Truth #5:
MyEmail was conceptualised as an Entry Point Project in an ETP lab. Tricubes was selected via a competitive process, conducted by MAMPU and GITN, and participated by four other parties.
Commentary:
If anyone has any evidence of fraud and corrupt practices, they should come forward with the evidence.

Lie #6:
MyEmail is the equivalent of a long-term concession to Tricubes.

Truth #6:
MyEmail is neither a concession nor a long-term commitment which binds the Government to use it for all its correspondences to the public. 

Commentary:
If there is any company that can come up with a better, cheaper and even more secure email service, the Government and public agencies are completely at liberty to use their services, instead of Tricubes. With such complete independence to choose, how can it be a concession?
10 important facts about MyEmail

MyEmail is part of E-Government programme

E-Government is the use of technology to enhance access to and delivery of government services to the rakyat and businesses

Read More... H.E.R.E


Sent by Maxis from my BlackBerry® smartphone

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Stolen ideas from another company....Maybe they knew about it...!!!

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