From a university dropout, William Henry Gates III turning lines of codes into the Windows Operating System first released back in 1985, to a Harvard social misfit, Mark Zuckerberg creating the world most successful social media site – Facebook.com, the industry is one that is fertilised by impulse and innovation, perpetually morphing and forever intruding into every aspect of our lives.
The industry is so pervasive that hardly any product escapes its reach. Computer programming is required today to build your car, produce movies and animations, set up manufacturing plants and to develop an efficient order management system to deliver pizzas. IT is the industry of making what was "impossible", possible.
The draft Computer Professionals Bill 2011 however, is an ill-conceived impossible attempt by the Government to regulate the “impossible”. The proposed bill fails because the limits and scope of the law cannot be strictly defined as the industry changes by the minute.
“Computing services” for example, will include today, website designers, setting up blogs or anyone producing an animated Flash-game for your Facebook. In fact, with seamless integration of a simple word processor, such as Microsoft Word with the Internet, a desk clerk now effectively becomes a provider of “computing services”.
The definition of “critical national information infrastructure” will be equally impossible define as it would and could encompass any industry from the government sector to financial services to the telecommunication communications or even the airline or transportation industry. Surely a failure in any of these industries would have a “devastating impact on national economic strength”.
Putting the two indefinable terms together will result in absurd outcomes. An advertising agency offering web design services for a bank will have to become a “Registered Computing Services Provider”, or a technician providing maintenance services of computer hardware in a government office would have to be registered as a “Registered Computing Professional” or a “Registered Computing Practitioner”, whichever applicable.
What is unimaginable would be for Microsoft to have all its computer programmers in the United States registered with the Board of Computing Professionals in Malaysia, before the company could sell its software to entities providing “critical national information infrastructure” in the country! If Microsoft or Hewlett Packard or any other product developer or manufacturer involving “computer services” from overseas could be exempted from being “registered”, then why should Malaysians be penalised for being unregistered?
The Bill and the bureaucracy to be created with its implementation will become an utter waste or resources for both the Government and the industry. Registration of practitioners or professionals does not guarantee quality and will not lift industry standards. If other countries from the United States to South Korea, from to Singapore to Germany and from India to South Africa do not require such a Bill to design, develop and produce top quality computing and related products, what makes the Government think that such a Bill will miraculously make Malaysia a top computing nation?
In fact, the implementation of such a Bill will only lead to an exodus of talent in Malaysia because they will find the environment substantially more conducive in other countries to pursue their computing dreams.
Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and hundreds of others did not succeed because they registered with a “Board of Computing Professionals” in the United States or elsewhere in the world. On the contrary, their success is based precisely on an environment which encouraged unrestrained creativity, breeding innovation without the leash.
The Malaysian Government will do well to admit the mistake that is the Computing Professionals Bill, and withdraw the thought of ever tabling the bill in the Parliament.