Friday, 2 November 2012

AES: Outsourcing gone too far — Tay Tian Yan

NOV 2 — It is an outsourcing world where we do not need to lift a finger to get many things done, thanks to the burgeoning outsourcing industry.

Outsourcing trims costs and perks efficiency, thus enjoys good commercial values.

As such, Apple has outsourced its software development to India, its manufacturing operations to China, and then makes big bucks out of the world.

But some outsourced instances have indeed gone a step too far.

Several years ago, I called up an international hotel chain to book a room in Malacca, and when the line was finally put through, I was greeted by someone with a thick Indian accent. Although I finally managed to fight my way to get my message across to him, my questions were largely unanswered by a phone operator who hardly had any idea of the hotel’s facilities, promotion packages or room availability.

I later learned that this hotel chain had outsourced its global room reservation services to India.

That was indeed an eye-opener for me as far as outsourcing is concerned, and sure enough I have since stayed away from this hotel chain.

What I was trying to say is that while outsourcing is a popular avenue for businesses, not every business should be outsourced.

Whether a business or operation should be outsourced needs to take into consideration more factors than just economic gains.

Take our AES, for example. The government has outsourced the AES system to two companies that handle things from installation of cameras, network connection to the issuance of summons tickets.

Both the government and the concessionaires will share the fines paid by road users flouting the traffic rules.

Sure enough, these two companies will want to recoup their hundreds of million ringgit worth of investments.

The more summonses issued, the quicker they will get their investment returns.

To issue more tickets, more road users have to be made to violate the rules.

The main objective of these two companies is to make money. However, the purpose of the government implementing the AES system is to enhance road safety and promote safe driving habits.

In other words, the government’s priority should be prevention and education, not making money.

The two companies have very different — even contradictory — objectives from that of the government.

From what we can see now, the government appears to have been manipulated by these two companies, allowing profitability to supersede the priority of accident prevention.

For instance, when the public urge that clear notices be put up near the AES points, the authorities choose to turn a deaf ear.

Refusal to set up notices serves the two companies’ profits very well. AES have been designed as traps that prey on unsuspecting motorists so that more traffic tickets can be issued, hence more lucrative returns.

This is in stark contrast to the desired functionality of prevention and education.

The AES’s problems do not lie with inadequate preparations, but rather the motive.

Allowing the outsourcing companies to rake in fat profits at the expense of the all-important goal of promoting road safety will only put the government’s credibility at stake. —

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