"Laman Reformasi Anti Kezaliman"
SHOULD POS MALAYSIA SELL PCs?

Is POS Malaysia doing so well in their current business that they can venture into selling PCs?  We know its postal business sucks, and it moves away from providing a good postal service to whatever can make them forget what they are there for.

Since its corporatisation, POS Malaysia services have declined, and is saved only by the private despatch companies and such firms as DHL and Nationwide.  They succeed because they are in a niche and focus business, on the ball with the latest technology to keep the customer informed at every stage of the progress of his parcel.  DHL, further, allows its customers to track their parcels through an Internet connection.

I am 33 years old.  Ever since I learnt of the existence of postal services, about 23 years ago, I have found it a convenient way to keep in touch when I was in boarding school, and with friends.  The post was important to us because we did not have a telephone to us, and most preferred to write anyway.  So, the postal service was important to us, as it still is to hundreds of thousands families living in remote areas to keep in touch with their children studying or working away in the cities.

I am luck in that I studied overseas from age 17, from 1984.  That is when I realised that the postal service was not as good as I had thought.  I found the British post offices efficient, with stand vending machines available when the postal outlet was closed, and not only then.  They provided a service the people wanted.  Back home, in Malaysia, we had to adjust to the postal department's schedules.  Service was not its strong point, and we were often treated as cattle who should have been at the abbatoir.

I always felt at ease when I had to deal with the British postal service. The staff were helpful, went out of their way to assist.  The queues were rare, with more queues as more came in.  In Malaysia, when the post office is packed with people, most counters are unmanned.  When you ask them why, it is time for their morning break, for their coffee, or just resting. The public must fit into the convenience of the postal service.

Vending machines could sell stamps;  the post office could sell stamps in bulk, say in packets of 10s or 20s, which could sold in the shops or available from the counter.  Instead, we have to spend an hour or more to reach the counter to make your demand, only to find that it is the time for "rehat" and the clerk disappears.  It is as tedious when it is only to buy a stamp to post a letter.

In Britain, even today, you can send a letter by 8pm and have it reach its destination in the same city by first post, which is about 8 am, the next morning.  In Malaysia, that is chancy.  Rarely it is delivered the next day;  usually it can take a few days;  and once it took a month.

Before POS Malaysia agreed to sell personal computers for those buying it from their EPF contributions, they should answer a few pertinent questions:

*  Would the PC sold by POS Malaysia be competitive with those sold
    outside?  Indeed, since POS Malaysia has a captive market, it should be
    cheaper.  If how Telekom sells computer is any guide, POS Malaysia
    would fail to.

*  Why are they promoting US branded computers like IBM, Compaq, when it
    should have on offer other local and foreign brands so that the buyer
    has a choice?  It is wrong to assume that because his EPF contributions
    are used to buy his computer, he should be sold a lemon, or at least he
    does not want.

*  Why, if POS Malaysia wants to be in the business of selling PCs,
    does it behave so unprofessionally, instead of bucking up and make a
    good job of it?

*  If I were to buy an IBM or Compaq, delivery is within a day or
    two.  Why does it take POS Malaysia one month to deliver?  Most
    computer would deliver within a day or two whatever the brand of
    computer one buys.

 *  We are not impressed by POS Malaysia's presence in its postal
    services.  Why should we expect that selling computers would be any
    better?

*  Or are we expected to accept this within how POS Malaysia conducts its
    business and we must be glad that EPF allows us to buy PCs through
    POS malaysia?

*  Is this exercise to persuade EPF contributers to buy PCs for their home
    needs or is this a charade to bribe them into believing that this is
    yet another government concern for IT?

Instead of selling PCs, did POS Malaysia ever think of:

*  How it could harness information technology to improve efficiency in
    this near monopoly national business?

*  How it could use this line of PCs into a postal and information
    technology business that would compliment its core business?

*  How far has POS Malaysia progressed towards this aim:

*  What its role is in creating an informed knowledge-based society.

If the answer to all this is centred on selling PCs and nothing else, then it has lost the battle for information technology.

Our Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamed, at the Doha Islamic conference to avoid American products.  This is too harsh, but the intent is clear.  Yet POS Malaysia challenges the Prime Minister's vision.  Why?

POS Malaysia is in bad straits.  There is no ifs and buts to it.  It jumps into businesses because every one else does, but that is not how it could build a profitable business.  Too much bureaucracy and too much interference prevents POS Malaysia making a profit while keeping at the cutting edge of technology.