Thursday, 6 October 2016


I haven't posted an IT.Scheiss commentary for almost four months now and my last IT.Scheiss post on the Ministry of Education's 1Bestarinet online learning system for close to 10,000 schools in Malaysia was almost a year ago in October 2015 - hmmm! how time flies.

Whilst my criticisms of the effectiveness of the project mainly involve socio-economic and infrastructural issues, on 4 October 2016, pro-government political blogger who goes by the name "Seademon" ("John F. Seademon") revisits a question raised by the Pan Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS), alleging corruption on the part of Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yasin, the then Minister of Education and former Deputy Prime Minister in awarding of the project to YTL.

For those who may be unaware, "John F. Seademon" actually is Captain Abdul Rahmat Omar, formerly of the Royal Malaysian Air Force and son of a former Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Hanif Omar.

Earlier in March 2015, Free Malaysia Today carries an article by Zairil Khir Johari, Democratic Action Party MP for Bukit Bendera, Penang about how the government had cut the budget on teacher training by RM350 million and instead allocated RM200 million for spending on information technology (IT) facilities in schools, which are used by as few as 1% (one percent) of students, according to Auditor-General’s 2013 Report and Zaril argues that such spending only benefits IT companies.

Zaril is the son of Tan Sri Mohd Khir Johari, a former Malaysian Minister of Education during the time of Malaysia's first Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman.

As a matter of interest, Muhyiddin is no longer with UMNO, having gone over to the Tun Dr. Mahathir camp, hence the opposition, after having been sacked from UMNO in June 2016, over a year after Zaril's article  criticising 1Bestarinet.

Sure, there are complaints about the quality and dedication of teachers in Malaysia's schools today compared to the 1950s and 60s and this human problem needs to be solved, not throw IT at the problem and expect it to work magic.

Well, that my friends is the "IT.Scheiss" (IT shit), which this blog is all about.

Besides about 20 years of writing about the IT industry in Malaysia, I earlier worked in the IT industry in a technical and executive capacity for about 10 years, so they cannot bull-scheiss me with their marketing hype, hoohah, bull-scheiss and ballyhoo about how IT can be an effective substitute for good human teachers.

Articles follow below.

Read on



1BestariNet: When Will Muhyiddin Be Investigated?

by: seademon

Muhyiddin recently appeared on a PAS platform in Kuala Terengganu to speak about 1MDB etc.  He was invited on the capacity of a former Deputy Prime Minister before the formation of Parti Pribumi which he is a pro-tem President.  Not once did he address the long-standing question from especially the PAS members – how much did he make from the 1BestariNet scandal?

PAS first asked this question back in April 2012. Mahfuz Omar of PAS asked then why was the project not given to known telecommunications players such as Telekom Malaysia, Celcom or TimeDotCom who would be able to provide better Internet backbone to support the project.

The 1BestariNet project is a RM4.077 billion project over 15 years to provide 4G Internet connectivity as well as virtual learning environment for 9,924 schools nationwide.  YTL, a known favourite of Parti Pribumi’s founder Mahathir, secured a RM663 million package signed by Muhyiddin when he was the Minister of Education.  The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) in 2015 concluded that the implementation of the First Phase of the project is a failure. Not even a project steering committee and project technical committee were established at ministry-level to ensure its smooth implementation.

Responding to the PAC report, Economic Advisor to the Concerned Social-Minded Association (Persatuan Minda Sosial Prihatin) Suud Ridzuan called for Muhyiddin, the then Deputy Prime Minister cum Minister of Education to step down to facilitate the investigation into the scandal.

“According to the PAC, this project is a failure. Why was there a need to spend so much for this program?” he asked. “I urge the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission to investigate.”

The BN-friendly portal also raised a few doubts about the project.  They are among others:

1. the installation of 1BestariNet Receiver Integrated System (1BRIS) communication towers that are supposed to transmit and receive high-speed wireless data in schools that do not have the appropriate LAN (Local Access Network) structure,

2. the refusal by YTL to pay RM1,200 per month to the Ministry of Education (MoE) as recommended by the Property Valuation and Service Department for each 1BRIS site. The MoE has thus far bowed down to YTL by allowing them to pay RM1,000 for each 1BRIS site instead;

3. the installation of the 1BRIS towers increased the electricity bill for each school by RM120 to RM150 monthly.  With YTL’s refusal to pay the RM500 for each 1BRIS tower site, the MoE would have to fork out between RM5.77 million to RM6.92 million each year until the expiration of the contract.

The portal also alleged Muhyiddin’s son-in-law’s involvement in the project, an allegation that has gone unanswered by Muhyiddin.

Perhaps the MACC should seriously look into this issue as it has gone almost forgotten.  Nabbing errant GLC office-holders may be a good thing, but letting a former senior Minister go free after hunderds of millions tangible rakyat‘s funds have been spent without tangible good results will not go down well with the majority.

Zairil: Spend money on teachers, not machines
FMT Reporters

Huge IT projects only produce profit for companies, not better educations, says MP.

Zairil Khir Johari, copyGEORGE TOWN: Pointing out that good teachers make for good students, an MP has criticised the Education Ministry for wasting the “huge funds being pumped into the education sector” on machines instead of people.

Zairil Khir Johari, MP for Bukit Bendera, said the government had cut the budget for teachers training and wasted billions on computer hardware and software, only to see it collecting dust.

“If the government thinks that better computers will make up for the weakness of our teachers, then it has not learned its lesson from the PPSMI fiasco,” he said, referring to the now-defunct programme for teaching science and mathematics in English.

He pointed out that expenditure on teachers was cut by RM350 million in this years’ Budget, but the allocation on IT rose by RM200 million. Government spending would not produce better performance if the money went on unnecessary big-ticket IT projects that were rarely used. Instead, the government should invest in teachers and students.

“What is truly shocking is the government’s denial syndrome and misplaced sense of priorities as they continue to channel billions of taxpayers’ funds into non-productive areas such as big-ticket infrastructure projects that only benefit private technology suppliers at the expense of the people that really matter – our teachers and students,” Zairil said in a statement.

He was responding to remarks by education minister Muhyiddin Yassin on Thursday, when Muhyiddin had said he was “shocked” by Malaysia’s poor performance in international assessment tests, which had shown that Malaysia’s “education standards, although said to be good, is not good enough”.

Malaysia placed 52nd out of 65 countries ranked by OECD in its Pisa international assessment, while 38 per cent of Malaysian students had failed to achieve the minimum benchmark in the TIMSS internatonal mathematics and science assessment.

Zairil pointed out that the government invested more than RM3 billion on computer hardware and software meant for the Mathematics and Science in English programme, but “most of this investment ended up collecting dust in school storerooms” as the programme had been discontinued.

“The same fate appears to be awaiting the RM4.1 billion 1BestariNet project; the Auditor-General’s 2013 Report revealed that less than one per cent of students actually used the system even though close to 9,000 schools throughout the country had already been equipped with it.”

By contrast, the budget for 2015 had cut spending on professional development of teachers from RM1.54 billion to only RM961 million.

Funds for “in-service training” of teachers was drastically slashed from RM410 million last year to RM48 million, “leadership training” slashed by two-thirds from RM181 million to RM62 million; and “pre-service training” were trimmed from RM948 million to RM851 million.

New expenditure of RM250 million was earmarked for “transformation of education service officers,” but even so, total spending on teachers was only RM1.21 billion, a drop of RM350 million compared to the 2014 budget. However, funds for IT expenditure were increased by about RM200 million for this year.

It was truly shocking, he said, that the government continued to channel billions into non-productive projects that would only benefit technology companies at the expense of the people that really mattered – the teachers and students.

Wednesday, 22 June 2016


The opposition in Malaysia has been hammered left, right and centre by many quarters for the manner in which it had shot itself in the foot in the Sarawak state elections in May and in the Sungai Besar and Kuala Kangsar elections on 18 June.

I really love this statement in an article by the Chinese language Sin Chew newspaper, which is reflective of the IT Scheiss (IT shit) which I have been going on about all these years.

"The opposition, meanwhile, has placed too much faith in the power of Internet and overlooked the importance of man-to-man interactions. Undeniably people in rural areas are more passionate about localism and are largely repulsive to brainless political jargon that brands opponents as 'stupid".

Those of you who have been reading my IT.Scheiss posts will recall me saying several times that the biggest political changes in history happened since long before there was the Internet - major events such as the American War of Independence, the French Revolution, the Russian Revolution, the rise of Hitler and Mussolini, the post World War II independence struggles, the anti-Vietnam War protests, the fall of the Shah of Iran, the collapse of Apartheid in South Africa, the fall of Marcos in the Philippines and so forth.

After mass availability of the Internet, people such as those in the US, have not been able to fight back against the foreclosure of their homes by the "too big to fail" finance capitalists whom the US government bailed out with public money to the tune of hundreds of billions.

So much for the"power" of the Internet.


Two-party system at risk of collapse

2016-06-21 18:39

Translated by DOMINIC LOH
Sin Chew Daily

I wonder why seasoned opposition leaders in the like of Lim Kit Siang would commit some serious errors in Sungai Besar and Kuala Kangsar, dealing a fatal blow on the Pakatan while boosting the morale of the opposing camp.

Among the errors was a gross negligence of the 'limitability" of by-elections. And since they were only by-elections, BN could throw in all its resources to promise more developments in a bid to offset any opposition onslaught.

Normally in a by-election the voters will be more concerned about local developments and day-to-day issues. And due to the narrowed scope of a by-election, local issues come more effective than national ones in luring votes.

Pakatan has no doubt positioned the by-elections too highly. Some say the by-elections would determine the success of the agenda to replace the current federal administration while Mahathir saw them as a referendum on PM Najib's public acceptance.

Pakatan has also overlooked the importance of their choices of candidates and approachability to the local residents. BN's candidate for Sungai Besar Budiman Mohd Zohdi is known for his amiability and people=-friendly attitude, and will visit any place of worship including Chinese temples and churches in a bid to dismantle the barrier between him and the voters.

The opposition, meanwhile, has placed too much faith in the power of Internet and overlooked the importance of man-to-man interactions. Undeniably people in rural areas are more passionate about localism and are largely repulsive to brainless political jargon that brands opponents as 'stupid".

Perhaps Pakatan has its own reasons to have committed the same mistakes over and again, including their inability to entice more Malay voters. As a result, they have to resort to the strategy of tirelessly pursuing national scandals to cushion the impact from PAS' draining of their support votes. Pakatan has also banked on Mahathir's influences to make inroads into the Malay areas but this has proven to be a futile attempt.

Pakatan Harapan has hoped to make use of the by-elections to start a powerful anti-establishment in the Malay society, and has therefore exaggerated the importance of these by-elections.

Unfortunately such a strategy has failed. Pakatan has underestimated Umno's grip of its fundamental support base and Malay voters, as well as their loyalty to the party, including that of PAS.

Pakatan's flop could be attributed primarily to its own overpositioning of the by-elections, giving the party members and supporters unrealistically high expectations. The bigger the hopes, the stronger the sense of frustration.

And BN is also happy to borrow Pakatan's own slogans to hit back at it. For instance, communications and multimedia minister Salleh Said Keruak has bragged that BN's thumping victories in these two by-elections have been the public's vote of confidence towards PM Najib.

The humiliating defeat of Pakatan has also exposed the opposition pact's dilemma and conflicts.

First and foremost, Pakatan's biggest problem is its inability to win the hearts of majority of Malay voters. According to news reports, Umno commands 60% of votes in Malay villages, PAS 35% and Amanah 5%.

Despite the presence of a multitude of negative issues, Umno is able to win impressively. Pakatan is unable to break through Umno's protective umbrella concept and this will remain a huge dilemma for the opposition pact for a very long time to come.

Securing under 20% of Malay votes, Amanah has once looked to mixed constituencies to claim its first victories, but even that is no longer a bet now. In Malay areas, with PAS hopping into the picture, that gives Pakatan very little if any hope of winning.

It is anticipated that Pakatan can only pin its hopes on urban constituencies in the coming general elections. Wrestling the federal administration is too distant a dream.

Secondly, the opposition is slowly losing its Chinese support, beginning with Teluk Intan, Sarawak and now the two by-elections.

While more than half of Chinese voters will still support the opposition, the support rate definitely pales compared to the 80% it secured during GE13. Unable to win the hearts of Malay voters and the outflow of Chinese votes may put the Selangor state administration in a very precarious position.

Which ways should the opposition parties be headed to after the by-elections? It appears that PAS doesn't look too worried about this but PKR is beginning to get very worried. The existing situation is highly unfavorable to the party.

If PKR is unwilling to sever its ties with PAS, Pakatan is well on the way to a decisive split, because DAP will never want to let the hudud issue to scare away its fundamental Chinese support.

As a matter of fact, it is a little too late to worry about the Malay votes now, as the general elections will not be too far away.

There are several formulas to break through the current doldrums. A merger of the three parties is a feasible solution. Next, it has to focus on the administration in Penang and Selangor with the hope of boosting its image and luring some votes to its side.

If Pakatan leaders do not have a clear direction for the future, the destiny of the country's hard-earned two-party system will as well be put at risk once again.

Sunday, 5 June 2016


I have often times said that the Internet culture is a PARIAH CULTURE and the article by The Mole should tell you why.

The anonymity afforded by the Internet encourages people to indulge their worst characteristics without fear of being identified, thanks to SMART PARIAHS who help to abet their PARIAH activities, all in the name of "privacy" and "freedom".

The Mole article follows below.


Dark web menace, where everything vile resides

Written by Zaidi Azmi
(The Mole does not endorse and encourage Malaysians to enter the dark web and therefore will not provide any links to the sources and sites that we have visited in the dark web)

KUALA LUMPUR – June 3, 2016: If Malaysians think that the recently reported paedophiliac news was extremely morbid, then they are in for a rude awakening.

In fact, what most of us probably knew about such disgusting sexual fetish was only the tip of the iceberg.

The shocking reality is that the demand for Austronesian (Malays, Filipinos and Indonesian) children pornography has been steadily rising.

Although these children’s presence in the so-called “dark web” is not as abundance as those of Caucasians or Latinos, ‘caramel kids’ (as they are generally called) were definitely the in-thing among paedophiles.

The dark web is a lawless underbelly of the internet and according to experts, it accounts around 90 per cent of what is vile on the internet.

It is a place where your IT technician would usually warn from going into, and thankfully it cannot be entered thorough conventional search engines.

The dark web can only be accessed via unique web browsers that will conceal your internet protocol address that makes it extremely difficult for anyone to trace and monitor your activities.

The lack of accountability made the dark web a hot bed of criminal activities and it has become the breeding grounds of illicit drug markets and violent paedophilic behaviour.

And the fact that it is not a place for the faint-hearted was absolutely true.

The Mole has discovered that most of the children pornographies littered in the dark web were not your-run-of-the-mill industrial grade porn acted out in studios.

These despicable contents were real sexual abuse videos acted on unwilling victims, usually children aged 5 to 15 years old.

And with the help of a local ethical hacker (who wanted to remain anonymous), The Mole has managed to locate several sites hosting hundreds of videos of kidnapped ‘caramel kids’ being sexually abused.

One of such videos showed a child tied to a wooden stool as he was being tortured and singed.

Shockingly, it garnered almost 14 million views.

It was not disclosed when the torture took place but the video was uploaded two months ago.

Also, there was no telling if the child survived the ordeal.

But what was even more sickening was that some of the viewers, had, during the first time the video was uploaded, suggested other ways of torture in exchange for bit coins (internet money).

“I like the way his nose gave of that red afterglow after being burn,” an anonymous paedophile commented at the comments section of the video.

Another commenter wrote: “I have donated 200 bit coins so please do a video where you shove that d#%*o up his a$$.”

A viewer from another paedophile websites remarked that he wanted “a change of pace”.

“I find these kind caramel kids rather intriguing,” said a viewer using the moniker, SpankRay67.

“I don’t care if you think it’s sickening but I’m not the one doing harm to those Malay or Pinoy or whatever you call them,” the viewer added.

But of course, child-abuse pornography was not the only traumatic contents present in the dark web.

There was even an online cookbook website that teaches its viewers how to cook even human being.

At a glance the site sounded like a sick joke but as The Mole dive deeper into the content, the recipes were nonetheless “dead serious”.

There were pages dedicated in informing viewers which part of flesh was better for what sort of meals and guides on how exactly to cut them.

As if that was not gruesome enough, those who were willing to donate will get to see the host perform live mutilations of human bodies.

So far, despite various claims by several intelligence agencies, it is almost impossible to regulate the dark web.

Among the agencies who made such claims were the United States’ Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

Last year, its director James Comey claimed that FBI)have the technology needed to tail those who enters the dark web.

But IT experts deemed that Comey was not telling the truth and merely trying to bolster the FBI’s image in an attempt to deter criminals.

The reason said by one of those experts, Jose Marcelino Ortiz, was simply because the dark web was specifically and complicatedly built for privacy.

“They do not have the technology to monitor everyone in the dark web,” Ortiz said in a video discussion regarding the matter on Youtube.

“They can only monitor those who have already been previously inflicted by their technology’s malware,” he added.

Even so, Ortiz said that the developer of these dark web portals would always release new patches to strengthen the security and privacy of their search engines.

The Mole had sent Malaysian Communication and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) an email to inquire whether they have the technology to at least deny Malaysians from accessing the dark web.

So far, there have yet to be any reply, but considering how the FBI themselves seemed to be at their wits end to deal with the menace, it would be highly likely that MCMC was having the same problem.

Monday, 23 May 2016


What more can I say.

Bernama reports:-

Sabotage In The Implementation Of myIMMs - Ahmad Zahid

IPOH, May 23 (Bernama) -- Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi today said they believed that the enforcement of the Malaysian Immigration System (myIMMs) by the Immigration Department has been sabotaged.

Ahmad Zahid, who is also the Minister of Home Affairs, said several names have been identified and will be announced by him and the police.

He commented on the note of caution given in the Auditor-General Report 2015 Series 1 on May 18 which stated that the myIMMs developed to support the main operation of Immigration Department was unsatisfactory and had instead caused the department's objective to be affected.

According to the report, the myIMMs biometric facility worth RM10.3 million was paid and supplied for, but was not installed and used at the entrance gates to screen and identify foreigners as well as Malaysians.

Ahmad Zahid added that they will collaborate with the National Audit Department to conduct an internal audit to investigate as a whole on the caution given, which includes performing a 'management audit' and a 'forensic audit'.

"If the system is found to be faulty, action will be taken against the supplier, but if it is a case of 'human error' then a 'revisit' will be done on any operational approach involved," he said.


The system was paid for, supplied but not implemented.

Information technology (IT) is no magic bullet to solve human problems. Hopefully, the authorities will deal effectively with the problem humans behind all this this.


Wednesday, 18 May 2016


This is a perfect example of "IT.Scheiss".

I have heard so much hype, hoohah, bullshit and ballyhoo about e-government and how the implementation of computing and information technology will "propel Malaysia to a world-class, knowledge-based, high-income economy with a  gross national income per capita of RM48,000 per annum" yada-yada-yada by the year 2020.

Well we are four years to the year 2020 and now this.

C'mon. Cut this crap and gimme a break.

Computing and IT systems cannot solve human problems.

Solve the human problems first, then talk about computing and IT systems to aid humans in their work.


The Malay Mail online reports"-

Immigration system deliberately brought down, source says

A highly-placed Home Ministry source said it was probing all parties involved in operating myIMMs, a crucial system of airport security implemented about 20 years ago. — Reuters pic
A highly-placed Home Ministry source said it was probing all parties involved in operating myIMMs, a crucial system of airport security implemented about 20 years ago. — Reuters pic

PETALING JAYA, May 18 ― Authorities suspect the online Immigration system that screens passengers leaving and entering KL International Airport has been compromised by “suspicious” breakdowns.

A highly-placed Home Ministry source said it was probing all parties involved in operating myIMMs, a crucial system of airport security implemented about 20 years ago.

“It is believed the system may be downed deliberately, suggesting corruption,” the source said. 

“Those manning and operating the electronic screening of passengers — from the authorities to airline staff and employees of the system development company — are being investigated.”

The source said the frequent “crashes” had raised serious questions about whether myIMMs was fit for its purpose during a time of severe threat from terrorists, people smugglers and other criminals.

“The high number of ‘breakdowns’ also suggests that many on watch lists could have gone under the radar,” the source added.

The myIMMs system was linked to Interpol’s I-Checkit in 2014 to enable authorities to verify within seconds if a passport had been stolen or reported lost.

The source said that when the system crashed, passports would be stamped manually.

“Their data is supposed to be input into the system once it is operational again, but this is not being done.” 

The worry: Foreigners sneak into the country, leaving room for terrorism, human trafficking and other criminal activities. 

The source said “system down” had occurred too often and “we now realise it may not be accidental but done purposely”. 

“The government has been increasingly anxious over human trafficking syndicates and others who are taking advantage of the security shortfalls,” he said.

On Friday, police arrested 19 people suspected of trafficking Sri Lankan nationals with fake Malaysian passports to Geneva, Switzerland.

In a four-week operation, they rounded up six Malaysians (two Immigration officers, one agent and three runners), 10 Sri Lankans (two facilitators, three agents, and five migrants) and three Indian agents.

Recently, two Russians and a Sri Lankan who worked as a closed-circuit television technician in the Klang Valley were detained in Selangor.

Questions were raised over how the men could enter Malaysia when the Sri Lankan was on the wanted list in his country, while the Russians were deported from Turkey in February due to suspected ties with Islamic State.

Sunday, 1 May 2016


Many in the media may hate me for telling them that the days of journalism as viable paying career are coming to an end as media publishers are forced to shift from print media where they have enjoyed ample circulation and advertising revenue which has enabled media companies to pay large armies of writers, photographers, support and production staff well with generous bonuses and ex-gratias; to online media where advertising revenue is about one tenth or less that of print advertising revenue and growing too slowly to make up for the decline in print advertising revenue.

(You may have to enable viewing images in your web browser or e-mail client to view these images)

Moreover, the relatively low barriers of entry to online and digital media publishing has resulted in more intense competition for online advertising revenue, coupled with competition from huge non-media sites with global reach, such as Google, Facebook and so forth.

For example, according to the Newspaper Association of America and Google, Google's worldwide advertising revenue surpassed total U.S. newspaper print advertising revenue in 2012, whilst growth in newspaper online advertising revenue was anaemic.

In August 2015, Maybank IB Research reported:-

"Jul 2015 total gross adex fell 18% YoY, the largest YoY contraction on our records."

"Public sector ad spend declined substantially by 39% YoY. MNCs are also beginning to cut back due to the weak MYR."

"Sector’s NEUTRAL call and calls on all media stocks under coverage placed under review."

"What’s New"

"Total gross adex for Jul 2015 fell 18% YoY, the largest YoY contraction on our records dating back to Jan 2007, despite a low base in Jul 2014 due to the MH17 aviation tragedy. The fall was driven by the public sector whose ad spend dropped substantially by 39% YoY. We understand that with the depreciating MYR against the USD and lingering effects of the 6% GST, MNCs such as Nestle, P&G and Wipro Unza have also cut ad spend by 20% - 40% YoY."

"7M15 total gross adex contracted by 10% YoY, more than our adex growth forecast of -8% YoY. 7M15 FTA TV adex and newspaper adex both declined 11% YoY. 7M15 radio adex also softened 3% YoY, which is much narrower than the YoY contraction experienced by FTA TV and newspaper adex. Going forward, it is still possible for advertisers to migrate part of their ad spend from FTA TV and newspaper mediums to the cheaper radio medium."

You can read the full report here:-

Now this article by Alexander Guzman foresees robots (well actually computer programs) replacing human journalists in article production, so how are journalists going to move up the value chain (to use that oft-heard cliched phrase), to remain in paid employment.

We have already seen the demise of The Malaysian Insider and The Rakyat Post, so what's next?

Welcome to that information and services economy, information technology journalists so often wrote about and lauded to the skies, thinking that as information workers, they were safe, unlike manual workers in automotive assembly plants.

Heck! We may soon have robots or more likely coin-operated machines dispensing burgers, so there goes low-paid services jobs as well.

We already have fairly affordable robots to clean the floor for us in the stores, so soon there may be no jobs for house maids.

Yours trully.


"Automated Journalism", Robots in the Newsroom: The Future of Corporate Media
By Timothy Alexander Guzman
The Main-Stream Media (MSM) or corporate media has recently began making moves to replace humans with robots or “automated journalism” to produce its news stories. Not to say that the corporate media journalists who currently work under the propaganda machine are independent and are committed to the truth. However, more than ever, corporate media conglomerates are slowly replacing those same traditional journalists with robots that can produce twice the amount of stories at a faster rate to beat out their competition is just one of the reasons for the change.  But there is a bigger picture to this new advanced technology.

Robots as we know, have replaced humans in several industries especially in the automobile industry where robots are already replacing humans on production lines. The media is no exception. Recently the New York Post (a tabloid propaganda newspaper) reported that Bilderberg attendee and Bloomberg’s Editor-in-Chief John Micklethwait told Bloomberg’s 2,400 journalists in an internal office memo that he was creating a 10-person team that will study how to “use more automation in writing and reporting.” Micklethwait reportedly said:

“Why do we need you, if the basic idea is to get computers to do more of the work?” Micklethwait asked in the memo, obviously addressing an unspoken concern among his staff.

One irony of automation is that it is only as good as humans make it. That applies to both the main types of automated journalism. In the first, the computer will generate the story or headline by itself. But it needs humans to tell it what to look for, where to look for it and to guarantee its independence and transparency to our readers. In the second sort, the computer spots a trend, delivers a portion of a story to you and in essence asks the question: Do you want to add or subtract something to this and then publish it? And it will only count as Bloomberg journalism if you sign off on it.

“Done properly, automated journalism has the potential to make all our jobs more interesting,” he said

New York Magazine published an article in 2014 titled ‘Robots Are Invading the News Business, and It’s Great for Journalists’ interviewed an independent analyst by the name of Ken Doctor:

Ken Doctor, an independent analyst who studies the news industry, told me this week that the rise of robot reporting is a product of the times — both technologically and in terms of the troubled economics of the news industry, which has led media organizations to search for ways to reduce their costs. “The robots are just another tool of new journalism,” he said. In the future, Doctor predicts, robots won’t just be reporters’ competitors. They’ll collaborate with us by preparing data-dense paragraphs that we can then supplement with our own analysis, producing a hybrid story that’s better than our human efforts alone.

“Journalism is becoming a more highly skilled job,” Doctor said. “Simply showing up, in the Woody Allen sense — being able to read a press release or interview a single person, and write up a story that is understandable in 750 words — that’s not going to be enough. The optimistic part of this is that we’d use computers to do the basic work of organizing facts, and that the judgment and analysis, the interpretation, the experience is brought to it by humans”

In 2014, the Associated Press partnered with Automated Insights (AI) to produce automated quarterly earnings reports by using AI’s Wordsmith platform. According to AI’s website:

The Associated Press, working with Automated Insights and Zacks Investment Research, uses automation technology to write earnings stories. Previously, AP’s reporters wrote such stories. AP now produces nearly 3,700 quartlery earnings stories for US and Canadian companies, over 12 times the number that AP reporters and editors produced manually

Robots taking the place of humans in the newsroom are just another way of eliminating journalists to cut labor costs. Just like McDonalds is eliminating their workforce and replacing them with robots to serve customers due to the $15 an hour increase in the minimum wage across the U.S. Although Ken Doctor said that the way robots (providing and organizing basic facts) would collaborate with humans who would then provide the experience and the final analysis to produce a “hybrid story” is nonsense, it’s about reducing costs for corporate news owners and executives. Another important factor to consider is that humans and robots collaborating to produce news are easily controlled by top management. According to a 2014 article from Politico by Charles Lewis, a former 60 Minutes “investigative” producer and founder and former Executive Director for the Center for Public Integrity (CPI) wrote a story titled ‘Why I Left 60 Minutes’ and said:

Fewer commercial news organizations support investigative journalism now than at any time in recent history, and reporters today—especially those who aggressively seek the truths that government, business and other powerful institutions seek to conceal—are arguably more alone, more exposed and more vulnerable to professional and even physical harm than they ever were. There has to be a better way

Charles Lewis left the CPI in 2005 which has been hijacked by the CIA-connected Ford Foundation, George Soros’s‘Open Society Foundation’ and other corporate foundations who are major contributors for the nonprofit organization. The corporate media will be a competitive market for journalists especially if they are competing against robots that do not require a salary, a retirement plan or healthcare benefits. It is not a hard choice for those who manage or own corporate media especially when it comes to their profits and political agendas.

Tuesday, 15 March 2016


After reports that The Edge Media Group wanted to sell off its online political news portal The Malaysian Insider, the online-only publication's editor Jahabar Sadiq finally bade goodbye and thanked all its readers in a post shortly before noon on 14th March. In Malay they would say it "tutup kedai" (closed shop), whilst in Thai they would say it "cheng" (went bust), like several others before it.

Goodbye from The Malaysian Insider


Published: 14 March 2016 11:58 AM

Goodbye readers from near and far, and those reading us in Malaysia despite the government block.

The Edge Media Group has decided to shut down The Malaysian Insider from midnight today, for commercial reasons. Perhaps it is fitting that we go offline at the start of the Ides of March.

I hope we have served you well since our first day of going live on February 25, 2008. And I hope others will continue to serve you in our absence.

We worked as impartial journalists to inform Malaysians and other readers so that they make informed decisions. We worked to make all voices heard in this marketplace of ideas.

But our work in The Malaysian Insider has now come to an end in a Malaysia that more than ever requires more clarity, transparency and information.

All said and done, I want to thank everyone of you in Malaysia, around the world, and those who have been with The Malaysian Insider from day one until now for your support, well wishes and criticism during these fantastic eight years and 18 days of The Malaysian Insider.

I won’t put down my pen, I won’t lay down my camera, I won’t shut up and I won’t be blinkered or turn a deaf ear to what goes on in Malaysia and the world. And I urge all of you to do the same.

And I shall always be the biggest fan of this news portal called The Malaysian Insider.


The Editor

* Jahabar Sadiq runs The Malaysian Insider until tonight.

This is unfortunate for its 59 writers and staff who will be out of work from midnight, including my former colleague who was editor of Mobile World Magazine during the few years she was with us. Hopefully, they will be absorbed into other subsidiaries of The Edge Media Group, which publishes the respected The Edge financial and business newspaper, whilst hopefully others will find work with whatever remaining media organisations still standing in Malaysia or perhaps with foreign publications.

Better still, look for work in other areas of media, such as in public relations, advertising, corporate communications, graphics design, video production or television, since based upon the experience in developed countries in North America and Europe, the golden age of news media are over and it's heading that way in Malaysia too.

It's not that it's a bed of roses in these other kinds of media but at least public relations and corporate communications still pay much better than journalism and several of my former journalist colleagues have made that transition and are earning much more and some even made that transition when the newspaper we were writing for paid well, paid us generous bonuses and ex-gratia plus generous medical and other benefits, especially when they got married and had to prepare to take on heavier expenses of buying a home and raising a family, since even all that income was not enough as they began their next phase in life and they were quite frank about it.

About 10 years ago, one of my friends who wrote for the gadgets magazine CHiP in Malaysia switched her career to being an industrial engineer with one of the semiconductor production plants in Malaysia and she has not looked back since. She's lucky that she graduated with a degree in electronics engineering, though there are other options for others in industries besides media.

According to Wikipedia:-

"The Malaysian Insider was established by Png Hong Kwang and Sreedhar Subramaniam in December 2007. Png is a journalist, and Subramaniam is the former Chief Operating Officer of the free-to-air Malaysian TV channel ntv7. A group of businessmen and journalists close to former Malaysian Prime Minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi started the news portal as a counter to Malaysiakini, which was deemed unfriendly to the Barisan Nasional (BN). When Abdullah resigned in 2009, BN stopped financing the news agency. After talking to several connections, the news portal top management re-secured funding with help from a 30-something Penang-born businessman with close ties to the current BN leadership."

"The organisation is then led by Chief Executive Officer and Editor Jahabar Sadiq, who has worked as a journalist in the region since 1988"

Despite that description on Wikipedia, that The Malaysian Insider was generally favourable to the ruling party, the slant of its articles gave some, including myself the impression, rightly or wrongly, that it was generally pro-opposition, which it sometimes criticised.

Well, when it was launched in February 2008, shortly before the 12th general elections, there was an increasingly intense internal faction fight between former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir and then sitting prime minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, both from the UMNO party, the leading party within the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition and the speculation was that the financial backers behind The Malaysian Insider were loyal to Tun Abdullah, which the Wikipedia account corroborates.

After Tun Abdullah stepped down as prime minister shortly after the 2008 general elections and was replaced by the current prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Abdul Razak, The Malaysian Insider continued with its critical reporting and whilst at times it was also critical of the opposition, it was still regarded my many, especially in pro-establishment circles, to be generally pro-opposition.

The Edge Media group acquired The Malaysian Insider in June 2014.

However, the portal continued with its anti-establishment slant and more recently, generally took a position opposed to Najib over the current 1MDB soverign fund issue and the said RM2.6 billion donation which was transferred into a personal account of Najib, something which the prime minister has not denied.

Recently, the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission, Malaysia's telecommunication services, postal services and online content regulator, blocked online access to The Malaysian Insider from within Malaysia, citing the reason being that one of The Malaysian Insider's articles had caused public confusion by quoting an unnamed source from a Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) advisory panel. However, this block and that of other sites were not all that effective, since more tech-savvy readers were able to get around the block through proxy sites or by changing the Internet Protocol (IP) settings on their PC. 

Meanwhile, The Malaysian Insider was loss-making and had bled The Edge Media Group to the tune of RM10 million in the 20 months since it was acquired. In his statement of 14th March 2016 with regards this closure, The Edge Media Group publisher and group CEO, Ho Kay Tat said:-

"TEMG has incurred losses of around RM10 million in the 20 months since we acquired TMI in June, 2014 and we are no longer in a position to keep it going."

Ho ended his statement with:-

"The closure of TMI should serve as a reminder to those of us in the media industry as well as the public at large that good journalism cannot be sustained without commercial support. And when good journalism stops, society is the loser."

Ho is so right about good journalism not being sustainable without commercial support. Unfortunately, this is so true about other kinds of media too, including media dedicated to writing about the information and communications technology and its industry.

The Edge Media Group had approached three other media groups which had shown interest in taking over The Malaysian Insider and and there also was an offer of a management buy out but all those did not work out.

Meanwhile, writing from his exile in Manchester, England in his The Corridors of Power column on his blog, Malaysia Today, pro-Najib blogger Raja Petra Kamaruddin provides an overview alleging that The Malaysian Insider had been set up and financed by wealthy individuals to serve as a media voice to serve their respective political agendas and now that they had not succeeded, thus The Malaysian Insider had outlived its usefulness and had become a financial liability to them.

The closing down of The Malaysian Insider and other matters

March 14, 2016 


Raja Petra Kamarudin

When The Edge Media Group (TEMG) bought The Malaysia Insider (TMI) in June 2014 (READ HERE), it was with a specific purpose in mind. And that specific purpose revealed itself soon after that when TMI spearheaded the attacks on Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak later that same year.

No doubt, the usual hype is that TMI is an independent news portal that will not take sides and will report the truth without fear or favour and all that usual nonsense that news portals such as Malaysiakini (a.k.a. Suara Anwar Ibrahim), Malaysia Chronicle (a.k.a. Suara Tian Chua) and so on spew out.

The truth is TMI is as independent as Adolf Hitler was a Jew lover and Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is a democrat. TMI, at least after June 2014, existed for only one reason and for no other reason other than just that one reason — which was to serve the ANC (Anti-Najib Campaign) in its effort to bring down Najib.

It would have been very profitable for TMI had the ANC succeeded in ousting Najib in July 2015 like they had planned. By then TMI would have been a year in operation and the rewards for just a year’s work would have been very lucrative. And we would have seen that rich Chinaman behind TMI get even richer.

Of course, it did not happen in July 2015 as planned. Instead, Najib axed those who were trying to oust him. So they needed to shift the date to October and then to December. But still Najib did not fall and Malaysia entered the New Year with Najib still as Prime Minister. And that was when TMI realised that Najib was never going to be ousted as planned after all.

By then TMI had blown RM10 million, according to their own admission (READ HERE). That, of course, makes sense since they have been operating for about 20-21 months at a cost of RM500,000 a month. And Tong Kooi Ong, the one-time Anwar Ibrahim crony who became rich with Anwar’s help, did not see why he should continue with TMI and blow yet another RM15-20 million until 2018.

And what happens if Umno-Barisan Nasional wins the 2018 general election and Najib remains the Umno President cum Prime Minister after the 2018 Umno party election? Does TMI then close down after blowing a total of RM25-30 million or does it go on and blow another RM6 million for every year it stays in business post-2018?

So, yes, as Ho Kay Tat said, it is a business decision and a decision that is necessary since they can’t sell off TMI and recover the RM10 million they have lost so far.

To these Chinamen, at the end of the day, it is all about the money. RM10 million is nothing had Najib been ousted in July 2015. They can get back hundreds of millions in government favours and contracts on the RM10 million they had spent. But if that is not going to happen then why continue to spend more money?

Tong Kooi Ong wants to sell TMI for RM20 million so that he can recover his RM10 million plus make a profit of RM10 million on the deal. So he approached Umno to try to get Umno to buy it.

Umno, however, realised that what they would be buying would be an empty shell as all the staff would just resign and go set up another news portal called The Malaysian Outsider. So what is Umno buying for RM20 million?

And that was when they decided to close down TMI. But of course they are going to try to make it appear like they are closing down because of action by the Malaysian government that does not respect free speech and the independence of the media and so on. The truth is the Chinaman is not going to blow another RM10 million or RM20 million after already blowing RM10 million unless he can get something out of it.

You mean you really thought that Tong Kooi Ong blew RM10 million so far because of his love from Malaysia and to help the country? If you really believe that then you probably also believe that 8 is a lucky number while 4 is an unlucky number. And what else do you believe: that red ang paus on Chinese New Year is good luck while white ang paus is bad luck?

Hmm…Malaysians so easily believe whatever suits them. No wonder many believe that the 4th March 2016 launch of the Save Malaysia Campaign with the signing of the Citizens’ Declaration is Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s way of seeking redemption and paying back for his sins to the country.

I remember about ten years ago during the PKR annual assembly or party convention in Penang when Azmin Ali lashed out at all those who supported or cooperated with Dr Mahathir in his bid to oust Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

Azmin stood on stage and said, “Semua yang bersekongkong dengan Mahathir boleh blah.” This can translate to mean all those who collaborate with Mahathir can fxxx off. ‘Blah’ would be the Bahasa Malaysia equivalent of…well, you know what it translates to.

That was about ten years ago. And when Azmin shouted that, Anwar Ibrahim was sitting beside him and was smirking, just like the cat that had swallowed the canary. Anwar made it very clear that Azmin had his permission to scold us, or maybe he even told Azmin to do it.

Anyway, ten years hence and now Azmin and Anwar both bersekongkong dengan Mahathir. In fact, they even accept Mahathir as the new de facto opposition leader to replace Anwar. How times have changed.

Ten years ago we were told that if we collaborate with Mahathir then we are traitors. Today, Mat Sabu says all those who oppose Mahathir are cowards (READ HERE). Actually, Mat Sabu used the word pengecut. And pengecut means more than just coward. Pengecut comes from the word kecut or shrunk. So figure out what Mat Sabu is referring to when he says ‘shrunk’. Apa dia yang sudah kecut?

And, yes, this is the same Mat Sabu who called Mahathir Mahazalim and Anwar Al Juburi.

Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah (Ku Li) made a statement in reference to my interview in the NST recently. Basically, Ku Li denies that his chap had met me and had asked me to sign that Statutory Declaration in June 2008.

Anyway, I do not want to say too much on the matter because those who are in the know would know what really happened. I just want to publish this photograph of the person that most likely one million Malaysians know works for Ku Li and is Ku Li’s attack dog.

Beware the Ides of March, Nik Azmi a.k.a. Bul. You can twist and you can turn but you can never avoid the truth finally being revealed. And make sure that people don’t start calling you Nik Azmi a.k.a. Bul a.k.a. Bull…if you know what I mean.

Whilst I do not approve of his use of the derogatory term "Chinamen", still this should serve as a reminder to idealistic writers who see themselves and the media they write for as "fighting for justice, human rights, the interests of the people" and so forth, when in fact they could well be serving certain powerful wealthy interests against other powerful wealthy interests, instead of being a "Fourth Estate" observing and commenting from above the fray.

Meanwhile on 29 February 2016, The Star reported that another online news portal, The Rakyat Post (The People's Post) had shut down.

"KUALA LUMPUR: The Rakyat Post news portal closed shop today."

"The company, owned by Wespacom Sdn Bhd, told its staff of the decision to cease operations at a meeting with several representatives of its 60 employees at Menara MBSB here on Monday."

"It told its employees that they would have to lodge a complaint with the Labour Department or seek industrial action in order to get their two months’ unpaid salaries."

However, the following day, TV channel Astro Awani reported that the shutdown was only temporary.

"The Rakyat Post has been temporarily shut down following funding issues faced by the online news portal."

Then on 10 March 2016 Astro Awani reported that The Rakyat post had resurfaced again aftera brief hiatus.

"KUALA LUMPUR: After it was announced that The Rakyat Post would be shutting down their operations beginning March, the online news portal today resurfaced, much to the surprise of its ex-staff."

"The news portal's former editorial team claimed to be in the dark over this new development, as there had been no communication between them and the management since the shutdown announcement last Feb 29."

"In the announcement, the news portal's management had cited funding issues as the main reason for the shutdown."

A quick check on The Rakyat Post's website this 14th of March 2016 shows that its stories are up to date.

However, who it is who has revived and is financing it remains a mystery.

The Rakyat Post is said to lean more towards the establishment, though looking more closely at its content on 29 February 2016, I could see that it carried plenty of lifestyle, local and general interest articles, much like the lifestyle and city sections of most newspapers and perhaps would have been more successful had it been a print rather than and online publications, since I personally find the reading experience of these kinds of articles to be better in print, when one can read them whilst leaning back in a couch or whilst seated at a table sipping a cup of coffee.

Perhaps that's just my personal perception and whilst I hardly buy a print newspaper or magazine these days and read most of the news on my PC screen, still, on those rare occasions when I buy a print newspaper or read it in a cafe, I found the reading experience so much better, than on a PC or handheld device.

Whatever one may feel about it, these two recent online portal closures due to loss making operations only goes to debunk the claims made by new media advocates and self-styled new media CON-sultants that online and digital are the "future" of media, when in reality it has sounded the death knell of media.

Whilst indeed, the inexorable migration of readership from print to online and digital has undeniably adversely impacted the circulation and advertising revenues of print media, at the same time, the growth and quantum of online and digital advertising revenue for media organisations has not made up for their loss in print advertising revenue and unless online and digital advertising revenue for media catches up fast, there will be more tragic closures such as those of The Rakyat Post and The Malaysian Insider.

Right now, I strongly advise school leavers and mass communications students to avoid going into journalism, since they could well find themselves out of work in their mid-30s or mid-40s, unless online and digital media advertising revenue makes a dramatic leap soon.

Meanwhile, Mobile World Magazine which I wrote for from February 2006 till January 2011 published its last print edition of January/February 2014 and continued online-only but that too did not last and the latest article on its website is dated 29th of May 2015 this 15th of March 2016.

That's life folks. With a few exceptions such as business and financial media and journalism, for most, the glory days journalism are otherwise over or could take decades to return. So it's best to move on.

Those were the days, my friend. We thought they'd never end, but the sun is slowly setting on this industry and on journalism as a viable paying career, so better look elsewhere where the sun is still shining or is rising.

I am yours truly