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Malaysia: Email For Citizens Project Draws Criticism

A few days ago, Prime Minister Najib Razak announced that all Malaysians aged 18 years and above will receive a 1Malaysia email account. According to the Prime Minister, this project will allow ‘direct and secure communication between citizens and the Government’. This comes in light of the PM’s unveiling of the 1Malaysia concept since he took office.

The project has immediately been criticised, for the very obvious reason that many people already have their own email accounts and would not need another, and that the project’s estimated cost is RM 50 million, a sum many feel can be better used for other purposes.

The 1Malaysia logo

The 1Malaysia logo

The Twitter hashtag #1malaysiaemail has been very active, with most tweets against this initiative.

Az’Farr Baginda (@TheBrownFellow) tweeted:

@TheBrownFellow: Even if it's free, why would the govt. want to give the rakyat an e-mail account?#1Malaysiaemail

Yeoh Ee Ping (@eepings) does not see the point of it as well:

@eepings: If it is costing RM50 million of tax payer's money to have an email address, I'd rather not have it. Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo all free.

State Assemblywoman Hannah Yeoh (@hannahyeoh) feels that more serious issues should be tackled:

@hannahyeoh: If Federal Govt can give all Malaysians a 1Malaysia account, I don't understand why automatic voters registration cannot be done.

Currently, a Facebook page objecting to the project has garnered 34,000 likes.

Shahz blogs that this project could lead to other more problematic issues like privacy:

With every citizen having his own e-mail address, protecting their privacy is going to be a tough job. It will only make fake ID cases more prominent as each e-mail carries the personal details of the citizens.

Dori_Lukey took a cynical and sarcastic stance about the issue:

The company in charge of this project, Tricubes Bhd, was at risk at being de-listed from the Bursa Malaysis stock market for not being able to keep in finances in order and to meet the obligations set by Bursa Securities (source here). If it had not been for the RM50 million dumped into it by the Malaysian government to create email accounts for all of us, many in the company would have lost their jobs, particularly the friends and relatives of our dear PM.

So by signing up as a 1Malaysia email user, you are actually doing the correct thing in helping to save the rice bowl of many important people out there. If not, many workers of Tricubes Bhd would not have been able to go Bali as planned this December.

The blogger at Jo’s Sanctuary also thinks the project is a waste of money:

I really wonder do the Government know what they are doing. If they want to have our email to convey message to us, they can do so by making announcement via the public media which they have doing so all this while. I don’t see the need for a private thread between us.

However, while many have come out to criticise the Government for wasting taxpayers’ money, the prime minister announced on Twitter (@NajibRazak) that no public funds will be used as this is a private project:

@NajibRazak: Before I sleep, let me clarify that the 1Malaysia E Mail is a private sector project. No public money is involved n entirely voluntary.

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