Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Aiya...tadak tengki har- pepaid card 5 linggit extra lar!

Registration of pre-paid sim cards and reload cards-A boon or a bane?

I wanted to blog about this yesterday and hopefully this piece of my two cent's worth is not outdated yet. Sorry if there is any regurgitation of second hand news.

Yes, I guess it's final. You and I would have to register when you purchase your SIM cards and also when you reload. Read the original news here.
And this piece of news seemed to be news-worthy for the ever-picky BBC news (they usually like to pick on rather 'small' but still can create kepohci enough news like the one on 'Malaysians told to pray for rain' and 'Malaysian cuisines in space' etc-seemed they like to degrade and undermine us). Check out the piece of news here.

An interesting excerpt of the news:

Though Malaysia has been almost entirely free of the violence that has plagued other countries in South East Asia, the authorities here are also concerned about a number of instances where wild and unfounded rumours have been spread by text message.

In 2002 villagers in the state of Sabah in Malaysian Borneo fled their homes after SMS messages claimed that head-hunters were roaming the area.

Taking the heads of warriors from rival villages as trophies was common in Sabah before the British colonial authorities put a stop to the practice, but the mere mention of head-hunters still has the power to fuel panic.

In January 2005, less than a month after the December tsunami disaster, thousands of people fled their homes around Semporna, also in Sabah, after text messages warned of another killer wave.

In both instances police believe the rumours were started by thieves who wanted to steal into empty villages to rustle water buffalo or ransack homes.

I never knew that piece of news about the 'head-hunting scare' rumours. Thanks BBC for telling me that. But seriously, did you notice on how they would like to pick on the news that would portray us negatively. Any angmoh reading this piece of news would be too fast to make negative assumptions like us Malaysians still living on trees and head-hunting is still practices widely. Check out the post that I wrote about the negative portrayal of us handling the haze situation (in this case, yes, we asked for it). I actually posted this comment in Jeff Ooi's post about the haze. In the conversations section, I got some of the feedback from other readers:

From beagle:
We cannot be held responsible for other people's ingnorance. If the West still thinks that Malaysians are living on trees, we can always pray to God to grant them wisdom and knowledge.

from edmund:
Sorry for being off-topic but in response to howsy, I must say that I was once accosted at a function in London with whether I drive and do I still live in trees. My answer is, "yes, we still live in trees and the British High Coomissioner lives in the tallest tree. Drive? No, we swing from tree to tree and, btw, your High Commissioner and his wife are the greatest swingers."
Another asked whether we still practise head-hunting. My reply is "yes, we do but traditionally we only hunt the brainless ones and I think you're in big trouble if you visit Malaysia."
After that they avoided me like the plague.
They were obviously trying to be funny as emblazoned one wall were the Twin Towers and one picture showed heavy traffic in KL.

Sorry for going off-topic but yes, I agree. Some angmohs really think that we live on trees, literally and figuratively. For example, initially, I was going to the pub with my colleagues and although I did not speak a lot (i'm a sensintrovert-remember?), here were some of the questions/comments I got from them:

Colleague A: Can you get Guiness in Malaysia?
Colleague B: That's a pool or snooker. This is a stick and that is a ball. You hit the ball with the stick.

I really feel like giving them a smack or just shoot them in the head. I really don't know what is going on in their minds. I know Malaysia is blessed with jungles and our biodiversity, but c'mon. Which person in this modern world still lives on a tree-top? Now I know the reason behind Toyo and his 'Semuanya OK' fiasco might be he wanted to prove all these angmohs wrong. " No more trees, we live in BUNGALOWS! Yeah!"

Registration would be a boon only if done smoothly, without any hassle and FOC of course.

There was this SMS circulating around about a girl (some said 4 years old, others said 9 years old)

"Help me sms as much as u can.God bles U.TQ.URGENT! child 4 yrs old Yau Jia Xin need O negative blood @ Nam Hwa Yi Hospital.pls contact 0124275813 or 0124930031."

Other bloggers had blogged about this earlier. Check it out here and here.

To my knowledge, this is the first time a 'rumour' went that big and far away. I'm in UK and I still got this SMS hoax. Yes, it was a hoax because people tried calling the number given and it was directed to a voicebox. Even Jonathan Kent from BBC attempted to call the number and he experienced the same thing. You can hear him talking about this in the podcast here. The Star and NST later clarified this on this piece of news: Check before passing on SMS and Heart girl ‘saved’ by SMS power.

Pic form NST: Yau's mother Teo, showing the SMS where she was also a 'victim' herself.

In addition to the earlier speculations given by blogger tiuniasing like:
- So many calls coming in, network is busy, Malaysia Boleh;
- Out of batteries due to so many calls received today day, Malaysia boleh;
- They don't need it anymore because they have found someone who has the same blood type, Malaysia Boleh;
- Again they don't need it anymore because the child is gone, Malaysia Tak Boleh;
- It's a chain mail from some stupid motherfuckers who has nothing better to do after they pangsai, Malaysia Tak Boleh,

may I add my two cents too-for not bothering to forward the message nor attempted to call the number:

1. First, I am so far away, how to come and donate blood woh? You sponsor my plane ticket har?

2. With all due respect to the girl, how much blood could a girl of 4-9 years old need for the operation. The most is maybe two packets of around 500 ml blood (I may be wrong as I'm not a surgeon). Yes, the blood type is rare but it is findable (I don't have any statistics on the proportion of people in Malaysia having the blood type). Plus, according to the news, her mother already got the help of two Chinese newspapers on Thursday to appeal for the blood. The SMS was sent on last Sunday. Don't tell me that during the four days, you can't even find 2 packets of 0 negative blood in this population of over 20 million people?

So shame on those forwarding the SMS around without thinking twice about the case above. You were too fast to whore out your emotions and feelings by thinking 'What the hell-the girl needs help and I only lose 5 cents of SMS.'

So, yes, registering of SIM and reload cards will be a boon to prevent this kind of SMS hoax or rumours floating around. But I have a series of questions to ask here:

1. Will the registration be done FOC, i.e. without imposing any hidden 'registration fees' in the cost of the prepaid card itself? There were some complaints that those prepaid card-traders were charging extra by giving reasons such as expensive rent and energy lah, petrol price hike lar, they provide the convenience of getting the prepaid card for you lar...etc...So, now they would have an concrete reason for charging you extra then.

2. Does this means the end of the MLM/ 'easy-side income' trade of the pre-paid cards?
I had friends who joined this MLM company somewhere near Pudu in this kind of trade and some others who even became 'petty traders' on campus selling these prepaid-cards. So, next time, do we expect them to bring stacks of registration forms around with them whenever they sell those cards?

3. Will the government be sure there will be no vice or criminal activities related to prepaid-card registration?
Related to the title of this post, traders would be too fast to charge 'extra' for penalising those forgetting their ICs or passports (for foreigners), which will finally end up in their pockets. And what about the illegal selling of those vital information? If the UPU list could be sold that easily, what about this list then? It would be even better as it will contain the phone numbers of the individuals.

4. What about those 'underground' selling of second-hand SIM cards?
How will the government going to trace them then? What about those SIM cards obtained through the black market? Or those from snatch thefts? If the SIM card happened to fall into the wrong hands of a snatch thief and a terrorist at the same time, would the innocent owner be wrongly charged? What sort of alibi and evidence that the innocent owner has to give to the court if ever a case like that happened?

SIM and prepaid cards registration-a boon or a bane in the Malaysian context?

There are many more other issues that need to be addressed such as the enforcement, forgery of personal information, tracking back of the users etc. etc.

The registration is implementable but in Bolehland, anything could turn up wrong and half-baked. I keep my fingers crossed to seeing another headline in BBC news pertaining to this.

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