Monday, 5 February 2018

Digital Free Trade Zone !!!! - Hmmmm! And what about Dagang Net

Dear Editor
cc. Chak (my dear former "Lee Duh Fu Sen" colleague)

Pardon me for e-mailing you as I vehemently refuse to participate in Facebook and had deleted my Facebook account some years back and have no wish to return just in order to comment.

Reading Wu Zhen Tan's article "Huh? Why does Jack Ma want to help KL solve its traffic problem?" where the Digital Free Trade Zone is mentioned, it made me kind of wonder whether the DFTZ would kind of duplicate and compete with Dagang.Net established many years ago.

Let's look at some details.

According to SME Corporation, as of 2016 (the latest figures so far), Malaysia had a grand total of 907,065 SMEs, of which 693,670 were microenterprises (I understand microenterprises have under RM500,000 annual turnover), 192,783 small enterprises and 20,612 medium enterprises. Of these, the vast majority i.e. 809,126 or 89.2% provide services (presumably including toilet cleaning and bum wiping services).

According to DagangNet's website, Dagangnet is a member of the Pan Asian E-Commerce Alliance described thus:-

"PAA was founded in 2000, and its current members comprise CAT of Thailand, CIECC of China, CrimsonLogic of Singapore, Dagang Net of Malaysia, InterCommerce of the Philippines, KTNET of Korea, NACCS of Japan, TEDMEV of Macao SAR, Tradelink of Hong Kong SAR, Trade-Van of Taiwan and PT EDI-I of Indonesia. Combined customer base of the PAA members now exceeds 340,000 organisations, representing almost all active trading enterprises in the Asian market. For more information about PAA, visit"

That does not say how many of Malaysia's 907,605 SMEs (as of 2016) plus or minus some by now, are amongst those 340,000 PAA members across the 11 countries mentioned above. However, I don't expect many service providers, would need to export their services, including toilet cleaning and bum wiping through Dagang Net or the Digital Free Trade Zone.

This FAQ (frequently asked questions) about the DFTZ paints a wonderful picture about this high tech, intelligent warehousing facility based at KLIA Aeropolis in Sepang, with future plans for a its first Satellite Services hub of DFTZ, Kuala Lumpur Internet City (“KLIC”) in Bandar Malaysia (That is provided Barisan Nasional wins the upcoming elections and Bandar Malaysia is completed).

However, KLIA Aeropolis is an air freight hub and despite all the gee whiz, cloud-based computer systems to facilitate customs clearance, etc, etc, etc (which Dagang Net also has) and whilst I could be very wrong on this, it does not look like the gee whiz, cloud-based computer system and intelligent warehousing systems in KLIA Aeropolis will be facilitating imports and exports of sea freight through Kort Plang - oops! I mean Port Klang, Tanjung Pelepas, Pasir Gudang and Malaysia's other sea ports, or for that matter road and rail freight across the Malaysia-Thai border and with Singapore across the Johor Strait.

Also according to The Moon -- sorry I mean The Star of 31 October 2017, our Prime Minister Dato' Seri Najib Tun Razak announced whilst launching the DFTZ, that so far, over 1,900 SMEs ahd expressed interest to trade via the DFTZ.


What !!!!! less than 2,000 out of Malaysia 907.065 SMEs expressed interest to trade via the DFTZ.

The Star's article also reported:-

"According to Alibaba Group executive chairman Jack Ma, Malaysia's DFTZ will be the first outside China and is meant to help SMEs reach global markets by lowering trade barriers."

Hmmmm! So if Malaysia' DFTZ is the first outside China, then how many DFTZs then are inside China and how much trade have they been handling?

Well according to Alizila, Alibaba's news portal, it's based in Hangzhou, Alibaba's home base.

"Alibaba said it wants to establish these special trading areas in markets around the world, creating an “e-road” between them. Last year, the company helped to launch the China (Hangzhou) Cross-Border E-Commerce Comprehensive Pilot Free Trade Area, which will now be connected to the DFTZ in Kuala Lumpur."

So OK! Malaysia's DFTZ and Alibaba's Electronic World Trade Platform (eWTP) are very much in pilot phase now and could grow as we head towards 2025 but it also competes and looks like it will overlap with Dagang Net in some aspects.

It remains to be seen whether this DFTZ thinggie will fly or eventually crash.

As for Alibaba cloud helping to solve Malaysia's horrendous traffic problems, I kind of agree with  Cilisos writer Wu Zhen Tan that all this gee whiz computers, communications and information technology will not solve problems which arise from the attitude of human beings and if human beings are screwed up, the most gee whiz computing platforms won't un-screw up human beings.

Sorry Jack Ma but you had better find a way to use Alibaba Cloud to un-screw up human attitudes first before you apply technology to facilitate operations. You must apply business process re-engineering methods towards human attitudes re-engineering.

In my over two decades of covering the information and communications technology scene in Malaysia, I've come across many people who have proposed and even IT-based solutions to traffic problems, including artificial intelligence and neural network - based traffic light control systems, traffic congestion warning and advisory systems and so forth and they have done bugger all to solve the Klang Valley's traffic congestion problems, especially at peak periods. Moreover, knowing the track record of Malaysia's maintenance culture, we need to promptly fix traffic lights which have failed first before we think of more sophisticated systems.

If your Alibaba Cloud can fix it, Jack, then a thousand kudos to you for fixing what Malaysians have been struggling to do without success all these years but quite frankly, I'm not optimistic.

Let me leave readers with what Larry Ellison said about "Cloud Computing" way back in 2008.

I really love it when he said ".. the computer industry is more fashion-driven than women's fashion".

He's right. This Ellison guy co-founded Oracle Corp. in 1977, back when many IT journalists and technopreneurs were either not born or were still pooping in their Pampers, and today Oracle is one of the world's biggest business software companies and Ellison Oracle's CEO until 2014, so the guy surely knows what he's talking about.

Maintaining that clunky old minicomputer which processed our payroll, general ledger and so forth was so much easier to handle than all the IT scheiss (IT shit) I have encountered and had to cover over my over 20 years of writing about the IT industry, where I had to attend numerous seminars and conferences in Malaysia and overseas only to suffer having to listen to and report on all the kok talking heads said on stage and from the podium.

Sigh! Oh! How I miss our "Lee Duh Fu Sen" days back in that "Yellow Hut", which sadly is no more.

And folks, don't forget to check out my old buddy's hard-hitting Cilisos site. We Lee Duh Fu Sen guys go back a long way.

I am yours truly


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