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All reputable paid e-mail services that I am aware of do not charge individuals or businesses based on the number of e-mails that they send or receive. Instead, all provide a mailbox quota that is shared between e-mails that are received as well as sent. Google Apps, for instance, charges USD50 (approximately RM150) per mailbox that is 25 gigabytes in size.  

Many, including myself, are already of the opinion that the 1Malaysia e-mail system is an unnecessary waste of money, private or not. However, when it was announced that the government would be charged RM0.50 for every e-mail sent, my eyes were wide open.

How did Tricubes derive this figure? Personally, I think this is incredibly exorbitant but Tricubes claims that it will be able to save the government RM200 million over the next 10 years.  

As such, I have decided to do some basic mathematics based on many assumptions, since details relating to this service is incredibly scarce for some reason.  

This ground breaking e-mail service is meant to allow for communication between the government and the people. In order for this to happen, it shall be assumed that every single government servant will have an account and, by extension, make use of it.

As of 2008, it has been reported that the number of government servants stood at 1.2 million. Certainly, this is higher now but 1.2 million is the figure that will be used for my calculations.

The next assumption will be the number of e-mails sent by each government servant daily. As this service is being charged based on e-mails sent, this is obviously a very important figure but a highly conservative figure of 10 e-mails a day shall be used. Realistically though, I think this is too low; it should be 15 to 20, if not more. It shall also be assumed that this service is so secure that it is not prone to abuse (eg. spam).                 

Finally, it shall be assumed that there will be 246 work days in a year after deducting the weekends (104 days) and public holidays (15 days); it shall be assumed that no e-mails are sent over the weekends and public holidays.  

Number of e-mails sent per government servant per year: 2,460 e-mails (10 e-mails x 246 days) Cost per government servant per year: RM1,230 (2,460 e-mails x RM0.50) Total cost per year: RM1,476,000,000 or close to RM1.5 billion (RM1,230 x 1.2 million government servants)   

Let us compare this against the cost of building an e-mail system for each government agency.  

The cost of building an e-mail system depends on several factors; the type of software and hardware used, the number of users and the usage policies (such as mailbox sizes) among others. There are many others areas (such as security and backup) but these would essentially represent some of the core items. These systems will also be built to cater for needs over a number of years, typically 3 years.  

In any case, it will be assumed that the cost of building an e-mail system for each government agency costs RM4 million. I made this figure up but I am quite certain that it does not cost anywhere close to RM4 million to build, especially for our government agencies. If you have any acquaintances in the IT industry, ask them if they have come across any projects purely for an e-mail system that comes anywhere close to this figure; I'm quite certain the answer you will get is not many, and even those will be for large enterprises. Our government agencies are also entitled to large discounts on software and hardware purchases. These assumptions are well buffered.  

There is also the cost of maintaining this e-mail system. It will be assumed that there will be 10 personnel purely dedicated to manage this e-mail system and each is paid RM5,000 per month.

Cost of e-mail system (to cater for 3 years usage): RM4,000,000 or RM4 million Operational cost of e-mail system (to cater for 3 years usage): RM1,800,000 or RM1.8 million (10 personnel x RM5,000 x 36 months) Other unforeseen expenses (to cater for 3 years usage): RM4,200,000 or RM4.2 million (additional buffer) Total cost of ownership over 3 years: RM10,000,000 or RM10 million   

RM10 million for an e-mail system for each government agency is an incredibly unrealistic assumption due to the amount of cost buffer added in. You don't have to believe me, go out and ask your acquaintances in the IT industry. However, let us assume that it does really cost that much to own it over a 3 year period. And as this is for 3 years, we have to also compare this to the usage of the 1Malaysia e-mail system over 3 years.  

Total cost to use the 1Malaysia e-mail system over 3 years: RM4,428,000,000 or RM4.4 billion (RM1,476,000,000 x 3 years)   

At that cost, we would be able to build approximately 440 e-mail systems (RM4.4 billion divided by RM10 billion), one for each government agency to cater for usage over 3 years. Admittedly, I do not know how many government agencies we have but I will be incredibly surprised if we have 443. However, it will be assumed that there are 200, an amount that I still think is too high.  

If each of these 200 government agencies were to build its own RM10 million e-mail system, it would still cost less to build and maintain (RM2 billion) than to use the 1Malaysia e-mail system. In fact, based on these figures and assumptions, it would cost the government RM2.4 billion more over 3 years just to use it. As such, I am incredibly curious as to how it can save the government RM200 million over 10 years, as claimed by Tricubes.