Over-reaction to CPB2011

Personally, I think that there has been an over-reaction to the proposed Computer Professionals Bill. Most IT guys tend to think that this spells doom and it’s the end of their livelihoods as they know it. I don’t think so because of Section 2 of the bill, which limits the bill.

IT guys can still offer their services and just need to get registered as a Computer Professional if they wish to provide IT services to certain critical national infrastructure. I don’t see why this is a problem as this is a similar requirement for most other professions.

As someone in the IT industry myself, I’ve also often fallen into this trap rather quickly. However, as a law student, I have learned a little about how to read the law and I think that the fear is misplaced. The bill reads like a carbon-copy of statutes regulating other professions.

For engineers, we’re also regulated by statute and any engineer who wants to submit documents for regulatory approval needs to be a Registered Professional Engineer (PE). This doesn’t stop other engineers from making a nice living off providing engineering services that do not require regulatory approval, particularly in the electronics engineering field, which is one of our country’s largest exports.

Similarly, the CPB2011 will unlikely mean the end of the world for IT professionals. It just means that there is now another bar to cross before one can provide IT services to the government.

Like I mentioned in a G+ discussion, the devil’s in the details. This Act can either stifle the growth of the IT industry or promote it into a front-line profession and separate the wheat from the chaff. This is highly dependent on how one gets to register as a computer professional.

This is where I think that there is room for contention. If the bill requires a person to have a Computer Science (CS) degree as a basic requirement, the bill is flawed. There are literally thousands of engineers working in the IT field – largely electronics engineers (EE). It is quite common to group EE and CS together in a single faculty.

Also, there are lots of IT people who have risen through experiential work and not necessarily academic qualifications. These people should also have the room to register as a professional and not be side-lined just because they lack a CS degree. There needs to be room for these people to prove their competence maybe through other recognised certifications such as CISSP, CCNA, etc.

Personally, I’m for the registration in principle but the devil’s in the details.

It needs to be done properly.

I’ll be writing a bit more on this – and an analysis – on my law blog soon. Here it is.

PS: I hope that this doesn’t mean that I’d need to be registered with two boards, maintain two sets of CPDs and pay two separate Corporate Membership fees?

PPS: Does this mean that this bill would eliminate the random third-party contractors installing communications equipment for TM in our homes? If it does, I would consider it a win as I would not have had to deal with the kind of idiot that came to install Unifi at my office, which broke after 2 hours.

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Shawn Tan

Chip Doctor, Chartered/Professional Engineer, Entrepreneur, Law Graduate.

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