March 28th, 2007

New Media Policy for Singapore

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cac-appreciation.JPGHosted by Dr. Lee Boon Yang, the appreciation lunch today marks the conclusion of the National Internet Advisory Committee and Community Advisory Committee under MDA. For my (little) contribution, I got a nice stationary for Chinese Calligraphy that my wife probably will put into good use.

Today also marks the beginning of two new committees: AIMS, Advisory Committee on Impact of New Media on Society (Ya, I dont know either…) and IMAC, Internet and Media Advisory Committee (Ya, its corny).

AIMS is the higher level committee that will look at New Media on all aspect on society. Their recommendations to MDA/MICA would have significant impact on New Media, including but not limited to the Singapore bloggers.

The Singapore blogosphere is surprisingly quiet about it. I was kind of expecting some knee-jerking reaction on how Singapore government is trying to control the New Media.

Anyway, let me repeat what I said during the Nexus 2007 panel over the weekend: “Singapore has a two-tier media regulation, one set of rules for the Traditional Media and a light-touch approach towards the New Media”.

The two-tier media regulation is worthy of mention because while the traditional media is subjected to a rigid licensing regulation, Internet content is a simple class license (See Internet Code of Practice) instead. Not many people knows that if you put up any content online, you are automatically licensed by MDA under this class license.

While one may argued that it is fundamentally wrong to even regulate media, it is a matter of opinions, varies from people to people and from times to times. But more importantly, a moot point because this is the reality in Singapore.

It is the light-touch towards Internet content that allows us to setup our own blogs, share our photos, make our own funny podcast and upload homemake video to Youtube. These are what most take for granted forgetting that we probably cant do any of these, not without prior permission from the Minister (yes, no kidding).

This is why I also said during Nexus panel : “The government understand the New Media more than the general public gives them credit for”.

Speaking to some of the members of AIMS during lunch, I get the idea that no one knows how it will developed. It is a huge effort with multiple moving pieces (changing technology, changing behavior and thus changing impacts) and even more possible actions, reactions as well as unintended consequences. Maybe the two-tier media policy will go. Maybe the various Media Acts will be changed/updated. Maybe the whole framework will be replace. No one knows.

But I do have confidence in the capability of the people involved in this, that they will strike a fine-balance in our ever changing Media landscape. As liberal and as light-touch as the general public can accept, no more no less.

And yes, the community comments will be very important. So start talking and even better, send emails and letters to them.

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with MDA/MICA so everything I wrote here is my own personal views.

January 14th, 2007

Peace …

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Finally, after nearly 8 years of tug-of-war, ITU finally comes to terms that it needs to work with ICANN as I noted a few years ago (here and here).

The Internet should continue to be overseen by major agencies including ICANN and the ITU, rather than any new “superstructure,” the new head of the International Telecommunications Union said on Friday…

“We all must work together, each agency has its role to play. We must come to a better cooperation … and avoid setting up a superstructure which would be very controversial and very difficult to put into effect,” Toure told a news conference.

I am glad we can all put this behind us and focus on other more important things :-)

November 19th, 2006

No more one more year!

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Had a long coffee chat with a former colleague from IDA yesterday. It was nice to know whats happening with the team as well the usual corporate gossips. It is even nicer to confirm one of the work I started is indeed going places, not just to the Cabinet (and PM was there :-) but also COPS (Committee of PS) as well as the ultra-elite Pyramid Club1. And as expected the 20min timeslot given was not enough and as usual, a lively discussion :-)

Hearing these stories makes me wonder if I should have left IDA in the first place. I missed all the fun!

Just before meeting this colleague of mine, I was meeting with an investment banker whom I recently know as we are working together on a project. So we were just trading histories and I blurt out “I spent 3 years in IDA…but I think it is one year too long”. He gave me a suprised look and said “You dont like IDA?”.

No, I absolutely love IDA. In fact, leaving IDA is one of the hardest thing I had to do in my career. “There is no better place for a technologist like me to work in Singapore. Tracking technology trends is a hobby and doing it as a living is even better. Not only that, it gives me opportunities using technology to make a difference to the society (hopefully for the better).” still remains true. Making it harder was the fact I had nothing to fall back to. Essentially, I am resigning without knowing what I am going to do next. (It has to do with a promise of staying back until my replacement is found but no longer than that)

Yet now that I taken that step into the unknown, I realized I should have done so earlier. Like the story of “Who moved my cheese”, the journey of the seeking is exhilarant, the savour of the new cheese even more.

Looking back, it was the same experience when I resigned as CTO of my previous company. I had an extremely well-paid senior management position. I left without anything to fall back and after several months, I landed in IDA, with a paycut no less. But I was having so much fun in IDA that I told myself, “Damn, I should had done so an year earlier”. Not that I wasnt having fun either in my previous job.

Sincerely, I enjoyed all my jobs. I would not have taken a job that I know I dont enjoyed in the first place. Each of them is challenging, pushing me to higher and most of all the experience is valuable. But as fun as it is, as challenging as any work is, once is fun, twice is okay, thrice is boring and if remains the same, become monotonous2. Eventually I will find myself dragging myself to work.

Thats when I know it is time for me to leave.

The only problem is I always waited one year too long to leave.

So no more. This is a promise that I pick up the courage and be true to myself. No more dragging myself to work and feeling life sucked out of me. When I know it is time to leave and if it is the time for me to leave, I shall leave, as soon as possible.

No more one more year.

1 You wont find info about the Pyramid Club anywhere on Net. It is an exclusive invite-only club that comprises of the whos and whos in Singapore from both public and private sector. I had a mentor who was once a club member.

2 Don’t get me wrong, there are many many people who likes predictable work. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. If anything else, I am the odd ball. Thats just me.

March 15th, 2006

Timetable for IDN TLD testbed


ICANN announced the Timetable of Proposed Testing of IDNS in Top-Level Domains:

ICANN released today a statement outlining a proposal by the President’s Committee on IDNs (co-chaired by Hualin Qian, Mouhamet Diop and Paul Twomey) for a timetable leading to the technical testing of IDNs at the TLD level. The timetable contains a series of consultations and collaborations to ensure that the testing, when launched, will preserve DNS stability and security. It does not purport to be a presumption on any related policy issues which are in the perview of the ICANN policy bodies. The timetable calls for the start of testing in July 2006.

Basically, they are trying two DNS technique, a direct NS delegation vs DNAME assignment (think “soft linking” in Unix). I remember speaking to Prof. Qian in Perth about these briefly and oh gosh, finally!

March 1st, 2006


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The highlight of the day should goes to Geoff Hutson’s keynote on Convergence. Geoff as I noted previously has a talent for writing and giving really good speeches. A short summary:

1. Convergence is something the industry has always being doing constantly.
2. Triple Play is game over. Bittorrent has won!
3. What your users wants may not be what you want. But focus on doing what your users want you to do – shuffle the bits!
4. All the exciting stuff is happening above the network so stop trying to build smarter network.

(3) is similar to what I had said before: “Stick to what you do best (within your layer) and you will still make your money, in ways you never expect to be in future.

Oh, one slide is particularly interesting


As you can see, the market already redistribute to value applications service providers and the supplier higher than infrastructure providers. :-)

I agreed with almost everything he said and I doubt I could do a better job in delivering that message. If you are interested, here are his slides which is an adaption of his paper published at ISP Column.

March 1st, 2006

China’s alt. root? Panic over confusion


Last night, after dinner hosted by Mao Wei, I got this email from Dave’s Interesting-People: “China To Launch Alternate Country Code Domains”. It was funny because no one said anything about the BIG news during dinner but nevermind, I could clarify with them in the morning.

By morning, this little email turn into small discussion on IPer and a dozen of bloggers jump at it. Three of those even made it on CircleID (gosh, do u need to have 3 articles on the same topic?) I spoke to Prof. Qian and he said has no idea (apparently he was also asked during his board conf call) until Mao Wei step in to clarify.

So anyway, here is the story which I send to IPer, hopefully Dave will post it when he wakes up (I mean literally!).

Hi Dave,

Just saw this news and find it funny because I just had dinner with Mao Wei and Prof. Qian last night (Mao is the Executive Director of CNNIC). To be exact, they have no idea of the news as they are in Perth right now. But after showing them the news and speaking to them, this is what I gathered.

The focus of the news is actually the launch of .MIL.CN, a new 2LD CNNIC is launching which requires a change in their Article. As a matter of procedure, they announced the revise Article that includes the the policy for the three Chinese TLD for .NET, .COM and .CN (网络,公司,中国). The Chinese TLDs was actually added 3 years ago in 2003. It is hardly news now.

It has been in operation for 3 years now as you can see from

In practice, they did not actually use any alternative/parellel root. Instead, when someone registered a domain name like 联想.公司, what they get is 联想.公司.cn and the append of .cn is done automatically by the client resolution.

Dave, hope you can help to clarify this issue. The news is just .MIL.CN.

-James Seng

Like Ian Peter said: “There will be a few embarrassed editorials out there, but otherwise it’s business as usual.”

Sometimes it is better to ask first before pressing the panic button. I would seriously lmao if I see this on Washington Post or NYT tomorrow :-)

February 26th, 2006


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I missed my flight from Singapore to Perth. It was really silly; I was doing my email in the lounge and I forgot the time :( By the time I ran to the gate, they just closed it. *sigh* The next available flight was at 9:30am the next day, so I ended up having to stay at the transit hotel for a night. That’s was really werid.

Anyway, as I only arrived in Perth in the afternoon, I missed the APCAUCE regional update on antispam activities. *sigh*

But not too late to join the APRICOT workshop reception. While there were only 50+ people attending the pre-conference workshop, seem like everyone was pretty happy with the workshop. And the dinner was good.

Over dinner, Bill Manning mentioned that the DoC is doing a request for information on IANA. It was quite werid because I cannot find it on NTIA website. Anyway, the request for information can be found at FBO website instead. Particularly, note this “The Department of Commerce, National Telecommunications and Information Administration (DOC/NTIA) is exploring options for Contractor performance of three, interdependent technical Internet coordinating functions.“.

Not too sure what it means but my gut feeling says this is pretty significant.

Btw, a couple of people gave me funny looks when I login to Warcraft. Speaking of which, you might be interested to check out some news on our guild: C|net and 1Up, both got Slashdotted. It’s a really cool guild. Just a couple days ago, after a semi-successful run with some guildies, Joi whispered me: “You know the warrior in your group? It would be funny for you to know he is John Crain from ICANN.” John and me know each another…we just didn’t know each another in the game :-)

January 6th, 2006

Developing the Advance Research and Education Network in Singapore


I wrote an article for the Dec issue of SingaporeWave the monthly newsletter published by IDA. Check out the other issues of Singapore Wave too while you are there.


In the early days, Internet is a research and education network among the major universities. It is a “playground” for academics to experiment with network technologies and develop new applications, many are still being use today like TCP/IP, Email and the World Wide Web.
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October 3rd, 2005

Neustar and .GPRS

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Ever since Neustar announced they signed a deal with GSMA to oversea global database for the mobile operators last week (see also Washington Post), there are many debates about the deal online.

“Neustar, a company that should certainly know better, has announced that they’re going to create a .gprs TLD to serve the mobile phone industry This, of course, requires creation of a private root zone, against the very strong warnings in RFC 2826” said Steven Bellovin.

To the more supportive John Levine: “This isn’t quite as stupid as it seems. The GSM industry needs some way to maintain its roaming user database, the database is getting considerably more complicated with 3G features, and it looks to me like they made a reasonable decision to use DNS over IP to implement it rather than inventing yet another proprietary distributed database.”

Even Paul Vixie who has been one of the most vocal opponents of alt. root chipped in, albeit in a slightly positive tone to many people surprise: “oh and one more thing. a small technical matter, insignificant next to the democracy-related points you raised. neustar isn’t doing anything wrong– the “root” they’ll operate will only be seen by GPRS cell towers, not by end-user handsets.”

Let’s start by clarifying what Neustar is doing1: they are providing a global distributed database for SIP URLs, especially for mobile operators who have implemented IMS (which is essentially modified SIP) using DNS technology. Specifically a variation of ENUM known as Infrastructure ENUM2 that differs from (User) ENUM in its policies: the numbers are delegated to carriers & operators and not end-users . The controversial is that they are using a new TLD called .GRPS using their own alt. root server and many people jumped at the word new TLD and “alt. root”.
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September 12th, 2005

Proposed Spam Control Bill for Singapore

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IDA & AGC Seek Second Round Views on Proposed Spam Control Bill for Singapore

The proposed Spam Control Bill includes, in addition to email spam, legal measures to manage mobile spam in Singapore. The Bill also proposes that anyone who suffers damages or loss arising from spam be given the right to initiate legal action against non-compliant spammers. The draft Bill also proposes that if found guilty, non-compliant spammers can be directed by the court to stop their spamming activities or pay damages to the affected parties.