How can a law-abiding
cybercafé operator survive in corruption-rife Malaysia?
by Lim Kit Siang
I have received a heart-rending
appeal for help as to how a law-abiding cafe operator could survive in
The cybercafe operator J is
"almost at the end of the road" after being in the business for the past
five years and is regretting that he had "picked the wrong country to live
and grow by doing business and earn a living".
He had ventured into the
cybercafe business for the last five years after he lost his job as a IT
hardware/software salesman. With 2nd class honours degree in Business
information System in a UK university, he never got any better job which
paid enough commensurate with his qualification.
He had paid for his entire
studies right from local college to university in UK, working since in high
school till university as a part-time technician in computer shops, selling
self-build computers from home, etc.
While in UK, he saw cybercafes
as a booming industry and dreamt of owning such a business one day.
But now, he his staring at the
stark possibility of having to close down his business with debts of bank
loans near to RM1 million - all because a licence is required to run such a
Back in 2002, when he started
with 30 computers in his hometown, he took him more than a year to get a
licence to operate the business. Why the one-year wait?
J explained in his email:
in bolehland if you don't pay those people, they can't sign the papers to
approve anything. even though you have followed all the guidelines and
rules and regulations.
no choice but to pay RM2000 to get an approval after waiting for a year
for a license which only cost RM280, at the same time there were also
others exploiting these cybercafe license to be used as gambling outlets.
past 5 years those people who misuse the license for gambling industry got
more and more license with them to open multiple outlets in entire state
while i struggled just to get my only one license to run a completely
parents have advice me never ever get into illegal business, for this i
even paid up for all the copyright license such as Microsoft, Blizzard, EA
and so on. which cost more than 4-5k a month on installment plan in yearly
basis. but then to get a RM280 town council business license was a
the years, i expanded my business from 1 outlet to 3 outlets with more
than 250 computers, but getting the license to operate such business was
on going issue. from RM2000 coffee money to get a license approved the
price tag when up as high as RM15000.
after paying i never got my license then. and it got delayed from day to
poured his heart out about his other nightmares in the cybercafe
nightmares started one of my outlet was raided for not having
entertainment license and charged in court with computers taken away by
the corrupted cops asking for cash and high end computers as settlement.
and god knows if the computers are still in one piece after so long.
today DPP still insist that i should be be charged under the entertainment
license act even after the YDP has given press statement that cybercafes
do not require entertainment license but only business license where i was
advice by a license issuing officer ...that they (the police) can only
compound for such case with maximum fine of RM2000 and have the no right
to take my computers away. I'm still fighting for it but again god knows
when its gonna end as the police has taken similar action against other
outlet owners and they plead guilty on the charges and carry on with
business. some of them did this in hurry hoping that they could get back
their computers faster and run business as usual.
to find out, they only got back empty computer casing with all the
internal components removed.
weeks more and more such raids are taking place ... police are going all
out to shutdown such outlets. i was given warning as well."
Lamenting that "its the end of the road for me", he cried out in protest:
is now more corrupted then ever. when the police run out of gambling
outlets to collect their pocket money, we cybercafe owners are victimised...
cafe owners ...are spared, may be they have more cash to spare to pay off
the police and town council to avoid raids. small outlets are victimised
to show that they are doing their job.
very unfair with the government not taking full action. if this industry
is illegal then cybercafes in the entire country should be wiped out.
set our own rules and regulations to keep this industry healthy. but if
the government says its illegal they should make a public announcement to
shut down this industry.
technology industry is going down the drain, comparing this industry with
other countries such Singapore, Taiwan, China, Korea etc.
almost at end of the road. at the age of 30 i think i picked the wrong
country to live and grow by doing business and earn a living. i hope you
can highlight this matter.
its very hard to fight for rights in this country. any business which the
bumiputera's can't venture into big time means illegal in bolehland.
I have blogged about the
plight of J today but omitted or deleted references which identified the
location of the cybercafe, the town council, state and federal authorities
I added in my blog:
the location, town council, state and federal authorities involved be
you and I help J. Should J fight or succumb to the corrupt system?
reply to J, I suggested that he be a ‘public test case of how law-abiding
cybercafe operators are to survive in corrupt and busines-unfriendly
atmosphere (which extends to all small businesses as well) and to drive
home the point that local, state and federal govts have responsibility to
assist and facilitate such businesses rather than to hamper, smother and
kill them off’.
think J should go public and are you prepared to give every help to secure
blog and public support to make it into a ‘cause celebre’ not only for J
but also the many silent victims in his shoes in all businesses in the
Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic
Planning Commission Chairman