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The Major Problem with Consumer Forum Malaysia (CFM) – Opinion

The Consumer Forum Malaysia (CFM) established and designated by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) as a society in February 2001, is tasked to promote the growth of the communications and multimedia industry and the protection of consumer interests, among others.

cfm broadband

Basically, CFM was created to be the voice of consumers and also to educate them on communication/multimedia services.

Among noteable CFM members include Celcom Axiata, Maxis, Digi, U Mobile, Telekom Malaysia, TIME dotCom, Tune Talk, YTL Communications, webe Digital, Astro, MMCP and a number of NGOs/Content Providers.

Despite good participation from the industry, including from supply (Telcos/Service Providers) and Demand (Consumers), CFM has failed to protect the interest of Malaysian consumers, in my opinion.

(Disclaimer: I am an individual member of CFM for over 2 years now)

Here’s one main problems with CFM:

CFM Board of Councilors

CFM Council Members line-up for the term 2017-2019

Although being funded by MCMC, CFM is basically “controlled” and “run” by the Board of Councilors. Basically, half of the council members are from the Supply (Service Provider) while the other half are from Demand (consumer associations, non-governmental organizations, academia).

Its really good to see the council members from two sides of the industry coming together but here’s the problem in my opinion:

  • Huge number of the representatives in CFM don’t deal directly with consumer issues on a day to day basis
  • Half of the CFM Council Members lack education on consumer services, related to Internet, mobile and multimedia.
  • Due the lack of education on the Demand side (consumer associations, non-governmental organizations, academia), the CFM Council are heavily influenced by the Supple side members who mostly works in the regulatory team of their respective Service Providers.
  • Based on my observation, MCMC does not get involved much on consumer issues in CFM, they prefer “self regulation” despite consumers are not being treated fairly by service providers. In the past two CFM AGMs, there are only a few representative from MCMC who are present, this shows that MCMC is not serious about consumer issues.
  • Telcos/Service Providers don’t send representatives from Customer Service, Product or Network Team. Instead here are some notable Council Members in CFM:
    • Maxis (Mahfuzah Azahari, “Specialist” in Regulatory Department)
    • Celcom Axiata (Aini Hajar Alias, Regulatory)
    • Tune Talk (Mohd Ashwar Abdul Aziz, Regulatory)
    • Altel (Azizan Mohd Afandi, VP, Regulatory and Corporate Affairs)
    • Astro (Azlinda Zainal Abidin, Regulatory, IP Protection & Industry Affairs)
    • Media Prima (Datin Nor Hanizar Shafie, Regulatory Affairs Manager)

Surprisingly, the one and only relevant representative (from the Telco) in the Board of Councilors is Datin Mohana Mohariff from Telekom Malaysia. She is the Vice President of Customer Experience Management.

Here’s the thing, those working in Telco Regulatory team generally don’t deal with consumers or understand their issues/problem. Regulatory folks generally works with MCMC (other ministries/ agencies) on licensing, government affairs, regulation, among others. Conveniently, CFM is part of MCMC.

Regulatory people works in the best interest of their respective companies. And because CFM requires permission from the Board of Councilors to do anything and everything, any public debate, consumer events that discuss about issues or complaints are almost impossible to happen.

Mr. Abdul Rahman Samad from Pertubuhan Pembimbing Kewangan Pengguna & Keluarga Malaysia (KPM)

From what I heard, the recent CFM Dialog 2019 received many objection from the Telco representatives but one of the Council Member, Mr. Abdul Rahman Samad (picture) from Pertubuhan Pembimbing Kewangan Pengguna & Keluarga Malaysia (KPM) and the CFM Secretariat worked hard to make it happen.

There are over 40 members in CFM right now but not all are actively contributing, not even MCMC.

To be honest, I have met people from Customer Service, Product Heads and Network Heads of the service providers and these people do care about customer issues and they want to fix those problem. How can we get these people onboard CFM?

The only way forward is a revamp at CFM. Perhaps a representative from MCMC should be the Chairman of CFM and non-contributing Council members should be sacked?

These are the current CFM Board of Councilor for term 2017-2019:

  1. PERSATUAN PENGGUNA KEDAH (CAKE)- CHAIRPERSON
  2. ALTEL COMMUNICATIONS SDN BHD- DEPUTY CHAIRPERSON
  3. PERSATUAN EKONOMI PENGGUNA & KELUARGA MALAYSIA (MACFEA)- SECRETARY
  4. MAXIS MOBILE SERVICES SDN BHD- TREASURER
  5. TUNE TALK SDN BHD- COUNCIL MEMBER
  6. SISTEM TELEVISYEN MALAYSIA BHD (TV3)- COUNCIL MEMBER
  7. CELCOM AXIATA BERHAD- COUNCIL MEMBER
  8. TELEKOM MALAYSIA BERHAD (TM)- COUNCIL MEMBER
  9. ASTRO- COUNCIL MEMBER
  10. PERSATUAN PENGGUNA KOMUNIKASI DAN MEDIA MALAYSIA (PEKOMA)- COUNCIL MEMBER
  11. MALAYSIAN MOBILE CONTENT PROVIDERS ASSOCIATION (MMCPA)- COUNCIL MEMBER
  12. THE ADVERTISING STANDARDS ADVISORY MALAYSIA (ASA)- COUNCIL MEMBER
  13. PERTUBUHAN PEMBIMBING KEWANGAN PENGGUNA & KELUARGA MALAYSIA (KPM)- COUNCIL MEMBER

Kugan is a regular member of CFM for over 2 years now. He is very disappointed that consumer issues are not being actively discussed at CFM.

About Kugan

Kugan is the founder of MalaysianWireless. He has been observing the mobile industry since 2003. Connect with him on Twitter: @scamboy