Government Open Data : Preserving Internet Freedom In Malaysia

With so many years of exposure to MDeC, I like admit that at least MDeC is sincere and honest, even though the ambition for Malaysia to become an IT-knowledgebase-powerhouse-economy is still a bit far fetched - but that is okay - after all, those nerds and whiz kids at Silicone Valley USA are really too good at doing software and innovation.

So here is another noble initiative from MDeC and the current government administration; that it is trying to open up, become more transparent, engage with its citizen and make the people more articulate.

It was quoted that:

How can Rakyat benefit from the Government Open Data?

Open Government Data increases government transparency and allows more engagement between the Government and the Rakyat, enabling them to be more directly informed and involved in democratic decision making. Local entrepreneurs and businesses can use these data to derive trends and insights that can help them inform on innovative business solutions and models.

For my own passion, I see this as a positive momentum to prevent Malaysia from having its Internet vetted - for Internet freedom is the last thing that I wish for my country.

I also see this as opportunity for someone to create a big data solution which can compete with Google and other search engine companies - at least locally.

Someone once told me that you can build the atomic bomb by searching the Internet and immediately I wasn't impressed at all. As the matter of fact, as much as we admire Google, the Internet doesn't have everything and Google can't give you everything that you would ask for.

There are many reasons for this, for instance:

1.) It is the reason why Google will never charge for search because it can't guarantee the search result - there are two reasons to this; 1.) Google doesn't own the contents that was returned to you; 2.) Google's ambition is to maintain what you would call organic, which means that no one should manipulate the search results and this is parallel with net neutrality.

2.) Yet, we are still falling in love with Google every day after so many years since it was founded because it is still the best in the planet even though it doesn't give you everything that you would ask for.

3.) And if this is true, it means you can't build the atomic bomb by searching the Internet - the bomb may not blow.

4.) There is this thing called Wikileaks whose mission is to expose secrets - the founders of Wikileaks believe that they are serving humanity with a better cause by exposing dirty secrets.

Yet Wikileaks is condemned by many, because a secret is supposed to be secret.

Nevertheless, because Google maintains that the Internet should be organic, Wikileaks was not taken down from the Internet search.

And for those who wants to build the atomic bomb, you probably can try to search from Wikileaks for leads.

5.) Ms. Marissa Mayer, ex-Google VP and now Yahoo CEO once told that search was still in its infancy - I truly agree - the reason is because no matter how good Google is, the amount of data for them to index is really just too much to handle.

6.) Google's I'm Feeling Lucky feature:

I think it is a controversy feature, however, I appreciate its existence.

But I think what it really meant for in the first place was that if you search for something by hitting the button, whatever the results may be, that was what God intended for your - quite a cocky strategy.

It is not really about 'give and take', it is more like 'I help you to decide'.

For instance, when you search for a florist, you hit 'I'm feeling lucky' and the first search result is the one you should go for.

The great thing is that nobody even cares much about it.

7.) Therefore, it will still take a while until we can search for things like 'tell me the name of the company who is the main distributor for product A in Shah Alam ?'

Without official information from respective parties, no way such data would be available accurately.

Therefore, perhaps with the data that would be available from will help with producing a better search for information.

The Multimedia Development Corporation (MDeC) today announced 2 initiatives aimed at driving Open Data among government ministries and agencies: a strategic partnership with Open Data Institute (ODI), an independent, non-profit expert in Open Data and the launch of National Open Data Champions – a group of selected individuals to advise and support government agencies on Open Data implementation and execution.

(L-R) Dato' Seri Zainal Rahim bin Seman, Director General  of MAMPU_  Dato' Yasmin Mahmood, CEO of MDeC_ Richard Stirling,  International Director  of ODI

Working with MDeC, MAMPU also appointed the National Open Data Champions to expedite the Open Data adoption process within respective government ministries and agencies. 31 individuals have been identified, from 6 government ministries and 6 agencies including the Ministry of Communications and Multimedia, Ministry of Finance, Department of Statistics Malaysia and Land Public Transport Commission. These individuals are also responsible of identifying high impact projects and the data required for the development of solutions, as well as ensuring quality data can be used and shared by Malaysians.