Malaysia’s new postal law, which replaces the outdated 1991 Act – was published on February 9, 2012. In several respects it should set the tone for many emerging countries struggling with the definition –and funding – of universal postal obligations in a digital communications environment.
Per Article 98 of the Law a Postal Service Fund will be established under the auspices of the postal regulator . It will be financed from two sources: government funds, and a universal service tax (“monies contributed by licensees or by any other person”). Interestingly, the Fund’s monies may be used not only to fund universal service obligations (e.g., delivery in rural areas ) but also “to improve and respond to the needs of consumers through the use of technology”.
Electronic postal services are also mentioned . On the one hand, there is no licensing requirements for such services (Article 12). On the other hand (Article 35) “a universal service licensee – i.e., Pos Malaysia- “may provide” them, government “may prescribe the scope and fee for electronic postal services”, and the regulator “may publish guidelines on matters relating to such services”.
Could this open the door to the inclusion of electronic postal services in Malaysia’s universal service obligations ? Nothing in the new Law precludes it – the universal service is defined broadly in relation to the usual criteria of affordability, reach, security, quality. There is no reference to how it should be fulfilled – i.e., physical vs. digital format. It will be up to the regulator to confirm and revise the actual scope and contents of universal service obligations.
The new law is downloadable from the Malaysian Federal Gazette site at http://www.federalgazette.agc.gov.my/outputaktap/20120209_741_BI_JW001761%20BI%20Act%20741.pdf