Salleh should ask himself: What he can do for ICT in Malaysia and not what ICT can do for him!

Former Cabinet Minister Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz hit the nail on the head when she advised the new Minister for Communications and Multimedia, Datuk Seri Salleh Said Keruak to improve Internet services instead of shooting himself in the foot by saying Malaysians prefer slower Internet.

She said: “That is embarrassing if the world has the perception that most Malaysians prefer the slower option, and that the government is happy with that!”

Let us see whether Salleh could make amends for his howler that 71 percent of Malaysian Internet users preferred the slower Streamyx broadband package that offered speeds of between 384 kilobyte per second (Kbps) to 1 megabyte per second (Mbps) because Malaysians could not afford faster Internet plans that were more expensive.

There are no countries in the world which would prefer slower Internet unless it is peopled by cretins and idiots.

Let me refer to some of the points raised in Salleh’s two blog posts.

The Minister should refer to the Internet Users Survey 2014 report uploaded to MCMC website on 2 September 2015 which quoted 71.2% of respondent as saying that their mobile Internet is “sometimes good, sometimes bad” which means it is unreliable.

When Internet service is not reliable at the time when users need it, it is as good as rubbish. The report published by MCMC also states that 7.4% of home Internet users experience “mostly bad” quality of service.

Internet service which is unreliable causes slow Internet experience, wastes bandwidth and increases cost of usage in today's limited data packages.

Why is there no focus on quality of service?

From Salleh’s two blog posts, let me inform Salleh that TM no longer offers Streamyx packages at the speed of 384kbps (not 386kbps as he said in Sept 29 post) and 512kbps. The minimum speed package available is 1mbps for Streamyx as advertised on TM’s website. (

TM has removed the lowest and second lowest priced Streamyx packages at RM60/month (384kbps) and RM90/month (512kbps) from the market and left the 1mbps package priced at RM116.60/month. TM has made it twice as expensive to have wired connection at home for entry level package. Why had the MCMC and the Ministry of Communications allowed such fleecing of the public?

TM’s pricing on Streamyx packages has virtually not changed since it’s introduction except for slight adjustment for 2mbps and 4mbps packages when Unifi was introduced. This is not the way to promote affordability.

The following are the pricing and speed of TM’s packages: Table 1 - Selected TM packages

Package / Tech Customer Type Speed (download) RM / month
Streamyx / ADSL Home 384kbps* 60.00
Streamyx / ADSL Home 512kbps* 90.00
Streamyx / ADSL Home 1mbps 116.60
Unifi / FTTx Home 5mbps 157.94
Unifi / FTTx Home 10mbps 210.94
Unifi / FTTx Home 20mbps 264.94
Unifi / FTTx Business 30mbps Price not listed
Unifi / FTTx Business 50mbps Price not listed
Unifi / FTTx Business 100mbps Price not listed

*Package no longer available for new subscription

Singapore and Thailand have the following packages (not exhaustive) in Table 2 (Singapore) and Table 3 (Thailand).

Table 2 - Home (wired) Internet Packages in Singapore

Singapore Telco Lowest speed package available SG$/month
M1 100mbps (12 mnth contract) 39.00
M1 200mbps (24 mnth contract)* 29.00
Myrepublic 1Gbps 49.90
Starhub 200mbps (fibre) / 100mbps (cable) 39.90
Viewquest 1Gbps 65.00

*cheapest option

Table 3 - Home (wired) Internet Packages in Thailand

Thai Telco Lowest Speed Package Available Baht/month RM/month
CS loxinfo 18mbps 450 55
3BB 10mbps 590 72
True online 15mbps 599 73
AIS fibre 30mbps 790 97

A quick survey of packages available in Thailand - 18mbps for 450 Baht/month (RM55) by CS loxinfo, 3BB offering 10mbps at 590 Baht/month (RM72) and AIS fibre 30mbps for only 790 Baht/month (RM97) – show all these packages are cheaper than TM's 1mbps Streamyx package at RM116.60/month and yet the Thai packages offer ten to thirty times the speed.

According to Internet Users Survey 2014, over 50% of Internet users spend more than RM50/month on Internet fees. If the packages in Thailand were available in Malaysia, over 50% of current Internet users will enjoy Internet at the speed of at least 18mbps.

In the case of Singapore, the lowest Internet speed package for home appears to be 100mbps at SG$39.00/month (RM122 – exchange rate of SG$1 = RM3.12884) which is just RM5.40 more than Streamyx's 1mbps package by TM.

If Salleh could do this for Malaysia, we will be getting 100 times the speed at about the same price as Streamyx's 1mbps package. Also just for Salleh's information one can get 1Gbps at SG$49.90/month in Singapore.

Salleh had said, "It is estimated that if Britain wants to improve the communications infrastructure it would need to spend about RM200bil.

An Internet search shows UK “has invested over £1.7billion (RM11.524 billion) to extend superfast coverage (download speeds of 24 Mbps and above) to 95% premises in the UK by the end of 2017.”

Malaysia has spent RM11.3billion on HSBB project and a further RM3.4 billion for HSBB2 project or a grand total of RM14.7 billion as compared to Britain's RM11.524 billion (current exchange rate: £1= RM6.77885 ), a cool RM3.176 billion more than Britain.

Yet, UK's average speed is 11.77mbps vs Malaysia's 5.04mbps as at Q2 of 2015 according to Akamai's State of the Internet (Soti) report.

Britain is spending less and ensuring near universal coverage of superfast broadband while Malaysia is thinking of 95% Internet access by 2020. Britain by spending RM3.176 billion less than Malaysia is targeting 95% coverage of superfast Internet by end of 2017. Malaysia is spending more but not getting bang for the buck!

All in all, we are outspending Britain on broadband initiative while achieving rather modest targets in a longer term!


Focus on coverage is an important issue as I have highlighted in my budget 2010 speech and I had even proposed free universal broadband access for all Malaysians back in October 2009. (Ref: ).

Let us look back to Malaysia’s Internet toddler years of 1997-1998. In 1998, Malaysia’s Internet penetration was ahead of Brunei (6.3%) and on par with South Korea at 6.8% (refer to Table 4).

A snapshot of the situation seven years later puts Malaysia (42.3%) with relatively big lead over Brunei (29.7%). However, South Korea has pulled away leaving a big gap of 30.4% between us. In 2014, the data by World Bank shows that South Korea stands at 84.3%, Brunei 68.8% and Malaysia at 67.5%.

The sad story on Malaysia’s Internet coverage does not end there. Countries that started later than Malaysia is catching up fast - like countries China, Vietnam and Thailand which even have higher average Internet speed than Malaysia.

Table 4 - Internet users (per 100 people) according to Country

Country Name 1997 1998 2004 2014
United States 21.6 30.1 64.8 87.4
Singapore 13.5 19.6 62.0 82.0
Japan 9.2 13.4 62.4 90.6
United Kingdom 7.4 13.7 65.6 91.6
Brunei Darussalam 4.8 6.3 29.7 68.8
South Korea 3.6 6.8 72.7 84.3
Malaysia 2.3 6.8 42.3 67.5
Thailand 0.4 1.1 10.7 34.9
Indonesia 0.2 0.3 2.6 17.1
Philippines 0.1 1.1 5.2 39.7
China 0.0 0.2 7.3 49.3
Vietnam 0.0 0.0 7.6 48.3
Laos 0.0 0.4 14.3
Myanmar 0.0 2.1

Data source: World Development Indicators, World Bank

Salleh should ask himself: What he could do for ICT as Minister in charge of Communications and Multimedia and not what ICT can do for him. I am sure all Malaysians await his answer.

What is his vision for ICT in Malaysia as Minister responsible for this portfolio?

What is he doing to track the cost and affordability of ICT services to close the digital divides in the country, to increase ICT uptake in the nation’s least connected regions and enhance the role of ICT as a development enabler for the less-developed areas?

At the micro level, he should have read of the many complaints in the past two days about Internet speed, coverage and affordability, and whether he would set up a special committee to address the complaints highlighted by the readers in the various media, whether electronic or printed?

For a start, Can Salleh respond and take action to address the four folloiwing complaints (from among Malaysiakini readers) about Internet services, two from Kota Kinabalu?

  1. “I live just 2.5km from Kk city centre but yet my internet connection is only 1. Most days it doesn't even get up to 1. I would love to upgrade and even pay the exorbitant price but how can I when the network cables in my area do no support what it says on TM's system. … Many people I know pay for internet connections that they don't get -pay for 8 but get barely 2. TM has been silently robbing people of their money, do you know or even care Salleh? You should know your house in Likas.”
  2. “I have been paying RM199 for 10Mbps since it started. More than a year ago Maxis offered 30Mbps for about the same cost. Unifi did not respond to my comment on this disparity in pricing. It is only recently (last month) that Unifi upgraded my Internet from 10Mbps to 30Mbps at the same subscription. This means that for over a year I have been paying for internet speed at significant higher rates than the next competitor in the market. Where is the multimedia commission, whose task is to regulate the industry including setting and approving tariffs. A liberalised market (meaning many players) does not mean deregulation. The regulator is supposed to protect consumers and at the same time stimulate data usage and infrastructure for national development. WHERE IS THE REGULATOR??”
  3. “TM charges RM264 pm including GST for Unifi with download speed of 20 mbps and download volume of 120GB (currently unlimited) plus access to HyppTV. A relative of mine in the US pays only USD60 pm (about RM260 now or RM180 previously) for 75 mbps and 300GB respectively! With such speed and capacity, one doesn't even need cable or satellite TV. I live in the capital of Sabah and my housing estate does not have Unifi although it is less than 5km from the city centre!”
  4. “The minister is mollycoddling TM and other broadband service providers. The internet service guidelines require sustaining a high percentage of download speeds (I believe it is around 70%). So even at 1mbs, a user should be expecting to download at speeds of at least 700kbs. But almost all internet users will tell you that at 1mbs package, they can't even get it up to 200kbs unless you're talking about completely off peak hours like 3am in the morning! So firstly, it is a failure to enforce MCMC's own standards, and secondly, maybe the question is whether the standard is too high in the first place and if so why - because the government and the service providers are misleading the public in order to show comparable standards with overseas services. At the end of the day, Salleh should just come out and say UMNO has no intention of giving wider access to the public because a smarter public means even less support for UMNO.”

Has Salleh got any vision for ICT in Malaysia as Minister for Communications and Multimedia, or his only job specification is to blog to praise Najib and be his chief propagandist?

Lim Kit Siang DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Gelang Patah