We could have done better: Ex-Pikom chairman
By Goh Thean Eu December 15, 2015
- Should proposed establishment of AEC taskforce much earlier, says Cheah
- Hopes more local ICT companies can one day produce globally-accepted products
CHEAH Kok Hoong (pic above) is not one to mince his words – not when it is about questionable statements by government ministers, nor even about his own performance at the helm of the National ICT Association of Malaysia (Pikom).
In a candid conversation with Digital News Asia (DNA) in Petaling Jaya recently, Cheah – who recently ended his tenure as chairman of Pikom – said that if there was one thing which he wished he had done better while leading the industry association, it was to have set up the Asean Economic Community (AEC) taskforce on ICT much earlier.
“We talked about many issues in the industry – we talked about local issues like talent, we talked about disruptive technologies, the Internet of Things (IoT), and so on,” he said.
“But we never talked about macro issues – we conveniently forgot those.
“After I relinquished the role of chairman, I realised that I could have done much better. For example, we could have proposed the AEC taskforce much earlier,” he admitted.
The taskforce, established by the Asian-Oceanian Computing Industry Organisation (Asocio), was set up to address the challenges posed from the implementation of the AEC. Pikom is the chair of the dedicated taskforce.
The idea to set up such a taskforce came about a few months ago during the Asocio Pikom ICT Leadership Summit 2015.
The AEC, which comes into effect on Dec 31, would facilitate trade and investments between members of Asean (the Association of South-East Asian Nations) – in other words, the movement of goods, products and even talent within the region would be made significantly easier.
Cheah leaves Pikom in the hands of his deputy Chin Chee Seong (aka C.S. Chin) of Galasys Solutions (MSC) Sdn Bhd, and while he may have had some regrets about his own performance, there is no doubt that he did make some changes at the association.
Besides setting up the AEC taskforce, Cheah has also set a strong foundation for Pikom, moving forward.
For example, from next year onwards, Pikom will allow individuals to become members, and not just companies.
It will also be unveiling Pikom Fair 3.0, the latest iteration of its ICT exhibition, which this time around would not be focused solely on consumers.
These developments were recently announced by Chin, in his first official statement.
Pikom will be celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2016. Cheah told DNA that if there was one thing that makes him proud to be a Pikom member, it is the association’s “stable leadership, and succession plans.”
He said that one of the reasons Pikom has smooth successions is its “unwritten rule.”
The official Pikom rulebook says that one only needs to be a two-term elected council member in order to run for chairman.
However, behind this, there is an unwritten rule: That is one usually needs to go through various positions in Pikom (become a treasurer, then secretary, then deputy chairman) before becoming the chairman.
“This means the leadership is proven and is about the long-term. Otherwise, why wait eight years just to become chairman?” saidCheah.
Of course, Cheah was quick to note that Pikom had experienced a leadership crisis over a decade ago, during the late 1990s when there were two groups of people wanting different individuals to be appointed chairman.
“After that incident, Pikom strengthened the rulebook and it’s relatively stable now,” he added.
Hopes and aspirations
Although he has relinquished his chairmanship, Cheah (pic) remains passionate about the local ICT industry, and has high hopes for it.
“I hope to see significant improvements in areas like broadband, human capital and hopefully, one day, we won’t be just a consumption market,” he said.
“Today, in terms of ICT, Malaysia is still pretty much in a consumption model. We hardly create. We hardly hear about Malaysia products being accepted by the world.
“I hope that can change,” he added.
Cheah also believes that Pikom will continue to hold dialogues with the Malaysian Government and pursue policies like zero-rating for the Goods and Services Tax (GST) on ICT products and services, which he had argued before would be important to help the ICT sector prosper.
“We should build more programmes around the six pillars of Pikom’s five-year Strategic Thrust (2012-2017),” he said.
That five-year plan, unveiled in 2013, aims to create world-class Malaysian players, and projects annual industry revenue based on transactions to hit RM95 billion (US$31 billion at the time, US$22 billion at current rates) by 2017.
“Pikom also needs to continue with its rejuvenation process under the new leadership, to constantly evolve with the dynamic times,” said Cheah.
“We should focus on trends such as cloud computing, mobility, big data, e-commerce, online transactions, the IoT, and others,” he added.
Malaysian ICT spending to recover after September
Pikom elects new chairman, council for 2016
Pikom to propose special Asean Economic Community task force for ICT
Pikom unveils 5yr plan, says ICT industry to hit RM95bil by 2017
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