Coffee break: My elevator pitch to Parliament

This article first appeared in Capital, The Edge Malaysia Weekly, on March 26, 2018 - April 01, 2018.
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Greetings, Salam Negaraku and Salam 1Malaysia to Mr Speaker sir, Members of Parliament, ladies and gentlemen.

Thank you for allowing me to be here. You may be wondering why a start-up founder is addressing Parliament.

We are a data analytics firm called Kampungku Analitika, or KA for short. And we have an urgent proposal that seeks to safeguard our national security.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Big data is the new oil. Everything we do today creates data that tells people what we want, what we hope for, and what prompts us to instant and involuntary bowel movements.

And data drives all that we do. Humans are emotional beings and this data gives insights into how we feel. More importantly,  it gives insights into how to make people feel specific emotions. This is a powerful use of data.

But this is also dangerous. Who controls this data-driven power to influence our thoughts, manipulate our feelings and push us to impulsive decisions?

Commercial corporations, which manipulate us to buy value-adding add-ons. The Googles and Facebooks of the world have the most data and they are foreign entities.

Already, the US is in uproar over how Facebook’s data was allegedly manipulated by a third party to influence the elections.

Not having control of that data, that power, threatened their national security. And it could someday threaten ours.

My fellow Malaysians,

We need to address this problem before our own national security comes under threat. We need to take control of the big data and the power it represents.

As you know, the Big Data Authority Bill 2018 will be tabled after my speech. It seeks to consolidate and vest ownership of all big data generated in Malaysia in the federal government.

I ask you, honourable Members of Parliament, to defend our sovereignty and pass the Bill.

As you also know, the Bill will give us a 25-year concession to manage, collect and analyse the big data consolidated by the Bill.

We have the expertise and capability to optimise the data and make critical insights available to all branches of government.

We have also been given permission to monetise some of the data to pay for my salary, but I assure you that we will do so ethically.

If you pass the Bill today, there are many good things we can do together.

For example, we can increase tax revenue collection with minimal effort. Tax brackets are inefficient because many taxpayers are not paying as much as they can afford to — just look at how many people are holidaying overseas.

With big data analytics, KA can fix that. We will know how much each taxpayer spends on living expenses and such. Thus, we can adjust how much taxes everyone pays according to how much extra income they have left.

KA will, of course, be entitled to some of the additional revenue. It’s a win-win.

Another example is Kedai Rakyat 1Malaysia or KR1M, which was recently relaunched.

To help manage living costs for everyone, big data will allow us to calculate how much every Malaysian can afford to pay for groceries.

We can identify each purchaser’s income level, and that allows KR1M to raise or lower prices based on each purchaser’s affordability level.

We believe many Malaysians can afford to pay more, which means the government can afford to spend less on subsidising KR1M.

More importantly, we can also help you understand your rakyat better. With big data, KA can help every elected official here understand what your voters hope for, what they are angry about and what issues they are thinking about.

We know that these insights will help you serve the rakyat much, much better. Unlike what happened in the US, I know you will use these insights ethically and responsibly.

Ladies and gentlemen,

With all these benefits that we can bring you, KA only asks for a small soft loan.

All we need is RM248 million, which will see us through the first three years of operations. And you do not need to fork out any more public funds.

You will have noticed that the National Feedlot Corporation still owes the federal government RM248 million.

As provided in the Bill today, we propose that the debt be assigned to KA. We will collect the money from them and start working to protect our national security.

Please, pass the Bill so our children will have a better data-driven future.

Thank you for your time. God bless Malaysia.

Disclaimer: This is a transcript of an imaginary speech that has not been delivered and likely will never be. The writer is not responsible for the reader’s assumptions, so don’t forget that fistful of salt.

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