Merger of TMnet and Jaring to create an ISP monopoly against the interests of Malaysian netters, the objective of promoting  highest-possible  Internet take-up rate as well as  going against Internet culture of diversity and multiplicity of  ISPs in other IT-advanced countries

Speech (2)
to Selangor DAP State and Branch leaders on the issues and challenges of the next general election
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling JayaSunday): The Malaysian Internet community is rather alarmed at the 2004 Budget announcement of the merger of the TMnet and Jaring to create an ISP (Internet Service Provider) monopoly  which is against the interests of Malaysian netters, the objective of promoting highest-possible Internet take-up rate as well as going against the Internet culture of diversity and multiplicity of ISPs in other IT-advanced countries. 

In the 2004 Budget, the Prime Minister-cum-Finance Minister Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad announced that Telekom Malaysia will reduce the Internet access charges  to ensure wider access to the Internet at low cost as well as to promote e-commerce through wider and cheaper access to broadband Internet. 

He said Telekom Malaysia will provide 50 per cent discount for the industrial and commercial package, beginning with 30 per cent for phase one and a further 20 per cent for phase two. For other users, a 30 per cent reduction will be given for consumer broadband Internet charges. 

It would appear that TMnet has been taken completely by surprise by Mahathir’s announcement, as the Telekom vice-president for corporate strategy and planning Abdul Majid Abdullah said it will be several weeks before they roll out the new rates. (Malay Mail 13.9.03) 

What is even more disappointing is that there are no plans to reduce the current charges on the existing dial-up rates for home users to access the Internet – an omission which should be removed without any delay if the government is serious about promoting low-cost Internet access as distinct from broadband Internet access. 

MPs should fully reflect in their debate on the 2004 Budget the concerns of the Malaysian Internet community that the forced merger of TMnet and Jaring, giving  TMnet a virtual  ISP monopoly,  will not lead to “wider and more efficient Internet services”, and in particular the Malaysian blogs on this issue, such as from  Malaysia’s IT whizz-kid,  Dinesh Nair: 

“For starters, the lower rates will not signify an increased take up swell as it is TMNet's inability to deploy broadband with mile long waiting lists which accounts for the low number of 40,000 broadband customers today… The delay and the hesitation of consumers comes more from TMNet's lack of reliability and support more than anything else. Giving them a monopoly in this area will not solve anything. Anyone want to bet that we will see a request to hike the rates up in a couple of years, when all of this has died down?”


“While the PM claims that this will ‘ensure wider and more efficient Internet services’, I fail to see how creating a monopoly will accomplish this. Touting the other ISP license holders is a non-issue, with Maxis recently getting out of the internet access business and services from both Time.Net and Celcom being dismally unavailable to most people with any form of reliability. We've now sanctioned the creation of a single entity which will oversee your internet access development and deployment, setting ourselves backwards in the race to be an information rich society…

“I fully believe that this is a major setback to our communications goals of higher penetration and availability of internet access, especially the thrust to reduce the digital divide between the older generation and the younger, between the cities and the kampungs and between the literate and the illiterate. What assurance do consumers have that upon a suitable time after the merger, TMNet will not increase rates again?”


Malaysia’s boast to make the quantum leap to become an IT power will remain a dream so long as government leaders and key institutions of the state are incapable of developing the IT culture and mindset.

Yesterday and today, the Parliament website has again closed down for the weekend, demonstrating its steely determination to reject the 24/7 concept of cyberspace of being accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days a year – and being strictly bound to the five or six-day work-week, shutting down during the weekends.   With such a parliamentary website, are MPs qualified to debate IT issues in the first place?


* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman