[Disclosure: Pay attention! I am Malaysian born and bred]
Wow… The PR war in NB really heat up. While I was half expecting someone from Microsoft HQ will grace a small country’s, i.e., Malaysia, National Standard Body, I did not expect such a big fuss to be kick up. Here are the firery exchange between Dogh Mahugh and Open Malaysia bloggers: Mahugh A,B,C vs Yoon Kit’s A, B, C, D and E, with supporting fire from Yusseri, ditesh, Hasan . If you follow it, you will find it escalates from Yoon Kit’s non attendance of PIKOM’s meeting, to Mahugh being ejected (volunteerly leaves whatsoever) from a committee meeting in the National Standard Body.
I am a third party commenting on what I piece together from both side. First: YK’s non attendance of the PIKOM meeting. YK’s defense is he is not invited as he is not a PIKOM member. I believe if YK knows big guns from MS HQ is there, he will work very hard to get a ticket. Mahugh’s does not believe him, saying that non-PIKOM member, e.g. Google, was there. However, there is a hole in his argument: the companies he mentioned are all on the discussion panel. I think we can assume that the rule that attendees must be PIKOM member does not extend to the invited panel. Unless Mahugh can proof otherwise, YK’s version is more believable because as soon as he is removed from the panel list, he lose his rights to attend the meeting.
The more interesting, more serious and worth discussing is Mahugh’s argument that the anti-OOXML party is manipulating the committee in the Malaysian Standard Institute. That is refreshing. At last, anti-OOXML camp is accused of manipulating procedures.
Lets disect that event.
One: Mahugh accuses the committee for waited half-and-hour for anti-OOXML people to appear. First of all, meeting delayed for half-and-hour is not “unusual” in Malaysia. Perhaps he should be briefed on “Malaysian Time”. Nasty habit I know and I am glad to say that “Malaysian Time” is getting closer and closer to “International Time”. In any case, the chair replied to Mahugh accusation by saying that his presence is the reason why the meeting was late.
Second, why do Mahugh feel that he has the right to be present in the meeting? The committee meeting was there to ‘protect and advance’ Malaysia’s interest in ISO. I cannot see Tim Bray (Canadian) or Yoon Kit being present in ANSI meeting on OOXML. I am sure if they do, they will get the same treatment as Mahugh. However, I will not disqualify Mahugh on the fact that he is not Malaysian. To do that will be to dishonour thousands of non-Malaysians who had defended Malaysia, with a significant number of them paying the ultimate price. While some people will dive into it, I am not disqualifying anyone for being an employee of Microsoft or IBM or Google or some other company. As I had blogged before, expertise in some areas, such as document formats, are hard to come by. Most experts who can evaluate the standard is invariably employed by one of the companies who have an interest in the standard process. In such meetings, it is the man that counts as the important thing is during voting, the expert will put the country’s interest above that of his company’s. One can show that this by his track records. I am sorry to inform you Mahugh but your track record does not convince me that if you are in the committee, you will vote for Malaysia’s interest. You can cultivate this track record, and we will welcome you with open arms if you choose to. But till then… you are out.
Yes Mahugh, IBM’s rep was at the corridors and stalking the meeting, but the crucial distinction is that he was not in the meeting itself. By your own account, he did not intend to attend the meeting. You could always wait in the corridor should you like.
Third, the commotion with vendors presence in the meeting is fully understandable, especially given the fact that the particular committee was dissolved in disgrace by the the director of Malaysian Standard Body for too much politicking. Ironically, it is the issue of OOXML that caused the dissolution. Therefore, the chairperson is understandably spooked by accusation that there are people (more than one people) in the room that might be there to represent vendor interest. Ordinarily the absence of the word “alternate” attendee in IASA letter regarding Mahugh presence for the meeting is a small issue. However, given the history, it is important to clarify Mahugh’s role in the meeting.
This conveninently bring up the competency of IASA to defend Malaysia’s interest. The “appointment” of Mahugh as VP of IASA Malaysia is a farce. That is clearly being used as a back door to sneak people into meeting they are not entitled to attend. In my opinion, it is a abuse of IASA privilege to attend this meeting because they did not send somebody who is there to defend Malaysia’s interest. Privately, one can be sure that someone will have a “quiet word” with IASA.
Mahugh was also unhappy that after he leave the meeting room and left for Taipei, a decision was made to allow vendors into the meeting. On surface it looks like the whole thing is designed to exclude him, but is it? The crucial thing is did he already book a flight to Taipei knowing that he will not be able to attend the FULL meeting? From the chair’s account, it appears he did. I’m sorry that we Malaysian cannot accommodate your travel plan, Mahugh. Wait a minute, shouldn’t Mahugh modified his travel plan to suit the meeting instead? If anything, this is not something you want to do if you want to be taken seriously as being there to protect Malaysian’s interest.
Finally, kudo to Yoon Kit for keeping his cool. You should reply to his attack, but it is good that you do not attack him personally. That seems to be what he is trying. Personal attack is rather common and I am sad to say that even Americans that I respects seems to sometime fall in to this trap. I am glad that you know that personal attack bukan adat Malaysia (not Malaysian’s culture).