Friday, January 10, 2003

China banning weblog?

Good news: China discovered blogging. Bad news: The government is trying to ban it.

Dan Gillmor, one of the columnists I celebrate, keeps a widely-read weblog hosted on a Silicon Valley site. He takes time-off during early winter to teach communications courses in Hong Kong. Yesterday, he asked his readers if anyone has information about China banning weblog.

A student of his forwarded a message from a China-based blogger who says the government has just begun to block access to all blogspot sites. Logging-in from Beijing, the blogger could not access the Blogger server to update his weblog. The "CANNOT FIND SERVER" screen just pops up!

I am lucky, and I think fellow blogger Onn Yeoh also is, because the fact that you are reading this posting shows that Malaysia does not censor and censure Internet. We use the same Blogger server to update our columns!

During the 1999/2000 period when I was communting the KL-Beijing route on Open Source missions, one of the biggest hassles I had was to check my emails. Using 128kbps connectivity at a central business district, a novelty there back then, I can't even access my USJ FastMail, or iPass my Jaring emails.

Later, I found a trick by getting up before 5am to download my mails, though not very successful often times. The bamboo curtain veiling the cyber-space was fortified over there. Surfing US sites for news updates? Unheard of.

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Thursday, January 09, 2003

Chinese theatrics or Sandiwara

It's amusing how Malay mainstream newspapers react to MCA president's latest political manoeuvre. has this report:

Awang Sulung of Utusan Malaysia, an UMNO mouthpiece, commented on the matter in his January 9 column and questioned whether Ling harbours any hidden agenda in his latest offer to resign from the cabinet. He noted that Dr Ling has intended to resign and retracted before, much like the Chinese opera with its many twists and turns and the audience do not know the ending of the story.

"Whatever it is, Ling should resign completely from his government and party posts to give way to younger leaders," said Awang.

He described Dr Ling as an MCA president laden with various problems. "Once Ling exits, I believe Lim Ah Lek will follow suit, and that solves the problems in MCA," he said.

This is the second time Dr Ling submitted a resignation letter to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad. His first resignation letter in May 2000 was rejected.

January 10, Utusan Malaysia followed up with another opinion piece echoing Awang Sulung's stand in toto. The story titled Politik acah-acah Liong Sik tidak menjadi (Liong Sik's mouseplay politics benefits nobody), written by journalist Azman Anuar, said MCA is not owned by Dr Ling but the party members.

Reporting on the same issue, Berita Harian said Thursday Dr Ling's offer to resign from the Cabinet was largely due to his inability to resolve various problems within MCA and the Chinese community. Minister Ong Ka Ting, Dr Ling's protege, reacted immediately and called it mere speculation.

Who knows, there's wayang kulit playing alongside the Chinese opera now...

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Tuesday, January 07, 2003

Technology is no god

Bank Negara is mooting the idea of having star rating for banking services. The thing is, despite the heavy use of state-of-the-art technologies in customer service and yet customers are under-served. Is technology a benign solution that solves all human needs and wants? Will foreign banks set a benchmark that leaves the local banks far behind?

There is a lot to be done in consumer banking. ATM cards are issued in tandem with the installation of the auto-teller machine networks, making convenient banking services available after office hours and during off days.

In daily life, a bank account holder will have to keep funds available before he can use phone banking or Internet banking to pay bills and dues. This can be a big hassle as queues are normally long at the front-end banking floors.

What if a person keeps his salary in one bank, and his credit cards in another. He can't do inter-bank fund transfers via ATM networks and Internet Banking as it is still a dream in Malaysia.

Perhaps, with the imminent introduction of chip-based ATM cards to avert frauds, MEPS should seriously consider introducing inter-bank fund transfers on its ATM networks.

While we don't know how Bank Negara is going to implement this star rating system, but many informed customers have voiced out their concerns.

But to me, however advanced technologies can be, they are not flawless. The flaws will only get compounded when the business process has been wrongly re-engineered and human touch is lost.

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