Elephants have good memories

My buddy Yoon Kit seems to be having a heck of a time remembering what happened in today’s TC4 meeting, so I thought I’d try to help him out. My thoughts are a bit long for a comment on his post, so I’ll put them here where I have room to stretch out a bit, as an extended comment …

First off, great title YK. You have a knack for good blog-post titles, and I mean that. Being much larger than anyone else in the room, and much larger than I was when this silly DIS29500 process started, I certainly felt like the elephant in the room.

And as another introductory comment, I must say that I really want to like you. I have not one, but now two emails in my in-box from people I respect who are telling me what a great guy you are. I’m sure they’re right, but I’m strugging to find the wheat in all the chaff you’re throwing around.

Honesty in reporting the facts

I won’t return the name-calling favor and use the slang term for people who don’t speak truthfully (since we’re not actually children arguing on a playground, however hard it is to tell that at times lately), but I must say you’ve misrepresented a few things:

  • “Act of desperation”??? What an odd way to say it: I was asked to leave, and I did so, politely and without a single word of argument. Look up desperation — I think you must have accidentally used the wrong word there.

  • I got “stares from the room”??? I guess you must be reporting that secondhand, since you weren’t there when I walked around the room and introduced myself to everyone, long before you arrived. (Perhaps the fact the meeting started at 9:00 was another one of those meeting-related details you’ve been missing lately.) In any event, the only stares I noticed were from you. Projection, my friend: it’s a hard habit to break, as I know too well myself.

  • As for your comment about the Director General of Standards Malaysia not being allowed into the BRM, that would make a better analogy if she hadn’t been allowed into the BRM as an observer. Are you denying that’s true, or did you carefully omit that fact when you said she “flew all the way to Geneva” and “was not allowed into the BRM.”

  • And this one, I’m really tempted to use the L word on you: I “gruffly said “best that I leave””??? I smiled, shook hands with Yuk Wai and your chair, waved to the room with a smile and said it was nice to meet everyone. As you know, because you were there. (Perhaps the chair’s sarcastic question about whether I’d be attending the next meeting gave that moment a negative tone that you’ve accidentally attributed to me instead of him?)

And finally, your silliest misrepresentation of all: “big bully behavior”??? As you know, I smiled constantly and said exactly one sentence during the entire time the meeting was in session before I was thrown out: a calm, soft “does this rule apply to me alone?” Nobody answered, and I got up and left, still smiling.

If you’d said I appeared amused, or bemused, I’d agree with that, but this “gruff” and “bully” talk is a bit much for anyone who was actually there, don’t you think?

Not just errors, but omissions too

Your post is most interesting to me for the things you didn’t say. Regarding your arm-twisting of the chairman in the hallway, no comment? Regarding your little buddy IBM Hassan’s presence, no comment there either?

And what of my insinuation that your report deliberately misrepresents tiny minority opinions as things “many countries” stated at the BRM? Care to name any lists of countries, or do you only remember that there were a large number of them, but can’t recall which countries? Or perhaps you were characterizing secretive hallway conversations for TC4, under the guise of a “Review of BRM Issues”? You seem to have a thing for those secretive hallway conversations, if this morning was any indication.

As the elephant in the room, I’d have loved to discuss those sorts of details with you in front of TC4. That good-memory thing may have been of some use to TC4 members who want to know what actually happened at the BRM.

Malaysia’s interests

You speak of “the fate of OOXML with respect to Malaysia’s interests.” Do you mean your own ever-changing interests, as presented to TC4, or has Malaysia decided on specific interests? It seems to me that the 23 comments submitted by Malaysia on DIS29500 are Malaysia’s interests, but those are curiously missing from your “Review of BRM Issues” that you presented to TC4 today.

Now that I’m out of Malaysia (sitting at the Taipei airport) and can’t be hung for divulging state secrets, I’d like to share a few high-level observations about your report that was passed out to everyone attending the TC4 meeting today. This isn’t from elephant-memory, I’m looking at your report while typing this:

  • There is not a single word in it about Malaysia’s 23 comments or their relevant dispositions and resolutions.

  • There is not a single word in it about the 40+ resolutions that were passed at the BRM, but you did include several slides about resolutions that weren’t passed.

  • You include many (mostly) slides on things that were never discussed at the BRM, which seems odd for a report labeled “Review of BRM Issues.”

  • You include six(!) slides on binary mapping and translation, a topic that was only raised by 2 of the 87 countries who voted on DIS29500: the US (which recently confirmed an Approve position) and the UK.

Yoon Kit, how can you with a straight face present that to TC4 as a “Review of BRM Issues?” Hassan could have prepared this report for them himself, without ever attending the BRM, and to be very honest, the specific list of complaints you included reads more like a Rob Weir or Bob Sutor blog post than a recounting of what happened at the BRM.

It seems to me that Malaysia faces a big decision in the days ahead. Simply put, the decision is this: will Malaysia’s position on DIS29500 be determined by a calm, rational analysis of what’s best for Malaysia, or by the emotional and secretive distortions of an inexperienced young man? I can’t wait to see the answer.

And do let me know when the next TC4 meeting takes place. I’d be glad to attend, if I can be of any service. And if I can stay in the room, of course.

Comments (32)

  1. orlando says:

    "when this silly DIS29500 process started"

    I’m shocked by this sudden attack of sincerity.



  2. gfterry says:

    Hi Doug,

    Are you posting as the "VP — Inteoperability and Integration Standards, IASA Malaysia", or as "Senior Product Manager at Microsoft"?

    While the versions of what happened at the meeting differ, it is hard to argue with what’s on the business card you handed out.  Did you know about the "no – vendor" rule beforehand, and, if so, did that knowledge play any part in your decision to change your standing credentials to those of a Malaysian organization?

    As a software developer, I would really like to know the answer to the above question.  It is important to know whether Microsoft respects the intents and spirit of rules and laws enough to honor them, or instead views these things as mere obstacles to be manoeuvred around.  I can accept a pledge from the former, but not from the latter.  

    I hope that you, as the moderator of the OpenXmlDeveloper.org web site, can also see the importance of this question. So, again, did you know about the "no – vendor" rule beforehand, and, if so, did that knowledge play any part in your decision to change your standing credentials to those of a Malaysian organization?

    Thank you,


  3. funnybroad says:

    If you work for Microsoft, and you’re proud of your OOXML format, why in the world would you be distributing a business card with no mention whatsoever that you work for Microsoft????   Can you explain this to YOUR CUSTOMERS????

  4. yoonkit says:

    I have responded to every single question (I hope).


    Please get your facts straight before mouthing off next time.


  5. Mitch says:

    You are slurring yk, as that guy from New Zealand was slurred a few days ago by a Microsoft employee.

    You have a lot of pressure from up above to prove the impossible. No matter what the outcome is going to be next week, Microsoft has reached a new low with the community.

  6. Ed Brill says:

    Doug, you know that I sit on the periphery of this whole thing, having not been in any committee or any Geneva thing or ever having even met Bob Sutor or Rob Weir face-to-face.  

    So I am commenting here only on one aspect of Yoon Kit’s posting that you seem to have ignored in both your postings on the topic: what’s up with the VP, IASA Malaysia business card?  There’s a world of difference between being an IASA member, as you state in your other posting, and representing yourself as an executive of their Malaysia operation.  I certainly can’t find any google hit that lists you as a VP of anything, much less of IASA anywhere.

    So how did that come about?  How long have you been the VP Interoperability and Integration Standards for IASA Malaysia?

  7. Mike Brown says:


    You don’t address Yoon Ki’t s major point: your right (or lack thereof) to be actually present at the meeting at all.

    More specifically, how long have you been VP for IASA in Malaysia?  The title is not mentioned on the About page of your blog.  Are you moonlighting without Microsoft’s knowledge?

    Perhaps you could update us a little about the role of VP for IASA in Malaysia.  Does it come with a nice office?  Company car, etc?


    – Mike

  8. The Contrarian says:

    So the business card is genuine? How many other local bodies does Microsoft pay you to belong to, Doug?

  9. "by a calm, rational analysis of what’s best for Malaysia,"

    I am curious, Doug…. how would one determine what is best for ‘Malaysia?’  Is that via consensus, or majority rule, or fiat?  Or some other mechanism that’s not yet been proposed?

  10. Doug Mahugh says:

    OK everyone, I’ve been offline for a while because I had a 20-hour trip home and then got a good night’s sleep for the first time in a while.  I’ve just now allowed everything through in the moderation queue, despite the fact a few comments are pretty low and contribute nothing to the discussion.

    I’d like to apologize to everyone first, for posting the above post while in a rush at the Taipei airport, and while pretty pissed off at Yoon Kit’s misrepresentations of my behavior at TC4.  He had suggested I should attend as an IASA representative, and I had no idea it was a little trap he was setting.  Live and learn.

    A few responses to specific comments …

    Gfterry, I attended with IASA at the suggestion of Yoon Kit.  The business cards were provided to me because my colleagues had heard there might be procedural requirements for a business card demonstrating membership in IASA.  Regarding a “no-vendor” rule, I note on YK’s blog he talks about having Hassan from IBM in the room after they had asked me to leave, so you should probably ask him about those rules instead of me.

    Funnybroad, I’ve never done anything to hide the fact I work for Microsoft, and in fact several of the TC4 members already knew me as a Microsoft representative from other contexts.  I attended as an IASA representative because Yoon Kit suggested that I do so.  If you’re saying that passing out my Microsoft business cards instead would have been a better choice, I doubt that but we’ll just have to disagree.

    Mitch, I don’t  agree with you that I’m slurring YK.  He definitely slurred me with his untrue comments about my conduct at the meeting, and I expressed some anger in response.  And I’ve showed him some disrespect, which I feel he has earned by his failure to advocate Malaysia’s interests while spending huge amounts of time and energy on attacks on me, fellow TC4 members, Patrick Durusau and others.  I believe his reluctance to directly address Malaysia’s comments (which he himself helped to submit) speaks volumes about what’s going on there, and I’m simply pointing that out.

    Hi Ed, it’s great to have somebody from IBM actually show up for any part of this conversation, although just as in Malaysia it seems you guys are more interested in YK’s sideshow than the heart of the matter.  Can you shed any light on the questions I’ve been asking on the PIKOM-meeting thread, which are going strangely unanswered?  For example, why did IBM invite Oracle and Google representatives to come boss PIKOM around, people with no knowledge of the specific Malaysia comments?  (I’ve seen the emails in which IBM and Microsoft agreed to the meeting structure, so I can tell you that it’s a fact that the five people present arguing against approval of DIS29500 were an IBM-selected anti-Open XML team.)  Why did IBM’s team try to dictate to PIKOM that they should not focus their meeting on Malaysia’s specific comments?  Was that because Malaysia’s comments have been so well addressed that they can’t be used to try to lobby Malaysia to disapprove DIS29500?

    Mike Brown, if YK’s major point is about my right to be there, you should ask him why he suggested to my colleague the day before the meeting that I should attended as an IASA observer.  It’s odd to suggest I attend and then complain when I show up, don’t you think?

    Nathan, I think Malaysia can figure out how to have a rational analysis of the responses to their 23 comments without help from you or me.  As it stands, I’ve met with many Malaysian ICT industry people in the last week, from many different companies and organizations, and they all either can’t explain Malaysia’s voting at the BRM but assume it’s based on Malaysian interests, or they find Malaysia’s voting random and confusing, and have doubts about whether it’s based on Malaysia’s interests.  I hope they can figure out how to have a calm rational discussion of that situation, as I’m sure you do too.

    David, YES, I am proud to work for Microsoft and proud of how we’ve handled the file-format debate.  We’ve lost a few little battles to IBM and their minions, but my colleagues are a class act compared to the games I’ve seen coming from IBM in this debate.  The PIKOM meeting was a great example: I’ve seen the email from PIKOM to Malaysia’s Microsoft and IBM  people agreeing to the ground rules, and I saw with my own eyes that IBM’s delegation tried to bully PIKOM into a vague emotional discussion while we on the Microsoft delegation provided PIKOM with exactly what they asked for: specific information about how Malaysia’s 23 technical comments were addressed at the BRM.

    OK, that’s all I have time for this weekend.  I was in the middle of moving when I had to rush off to Malaysia to attend the PIKOM meeting, and I need to get back to it.  So I’ll not be moderating comments or posting anything here until Monday.

    I’ll also not be letting through any more comments that try to reduce this to the level of race-baiting, name-calling, and other games.  YK and the IBM boys have blogs for those purposes, so head over there if that’s what you’re looking to do.

    Enjoy the weekend, everyone.

  11. hAl says:

    yk is not interested in the changes and improvements that were made to the specification of Office Open XML.

    And he probably thinks his national body isn’t interested in that either.

  12. yoonkit says:

    As suggested by Doug, my response to his accusation that I was hatching a little trap, is here in the comments section of this post:


    tut-tut, Doug.

    BTW, I never knew I was this cunning – to be able to ‘fool’ a multinational company with one email. OK, I guess they were desperate. And yeah, they thought I was naive, and young, and inexperienced.



  13. yoonkit says:

    > yk is not interested in the changes and improvements that

    > were made to the specification of Office Open XML.

    hAl, can you justify that statement please? Why was I then up till 2am on Thursday morning trying to come up with a better text for CEILING at the BRM? I also had to miss the discussion about Dates on Friday morning, because Ecma/Microsoft kept telling me things couldnt be done. We had to find many workarounds to appease the gods of Ecma.


  14. yoonkit says:

    > Regarding a “no-vendor” rule, I note on YK’s blog he talks about having

    > Hassan from IBM in the room after they had asked me to leave, so you

    > should probably ask him about those rules instead of me.

    Doug Doug Doug Doug….

    If you actually took time off your moving schedule, and actually read my post, specifically  point #7  here:


    You will find that TC4 actually voted, and for this case, allowed vendors, third parties, and un-official reps to attend the meeting as Observers!

    Its just that you left a few minutes too early! I believe Mr Cheong actually picked up the phone and tried to get in touch with you!

    So its a beautiful irony that IBM was allowed to enter, and sit in your chair.

    I still think its inappropriate for vendors to be in the room, because people’s conversations have to be tempered about the BRM week. Frank and open discussions will not happen if the vendor sits right there next to you.

    Stop pushing that foot in your mouth even deeper. Read my detailed reply. Answer some questions. Then talk some sense.


  15. Mike Brown says:


    If you ever need professional business cards again, then I can recommend Thailand if you ever visit there.  What am I talking about though?  You’re probably Vice President for Standards: Thailand for some organisation or other aren’t you!!!?

    Okay, next time you’re being VP for Standards: Thailand, head down to Ko Samui Road in Bangkok. You can get drivers’ licenses, student cards, press passes .. the lot!  Bet they do a nice line in VP for Standards cards too.  Just give them your name and the country of your choice.


    – Mike

  16. Anon says:

    Isn´t Yoon Kit the Malaysian guy who wrote the comments submitted by *Kenya*? Which was only discovered because he forgot to clean up his name in the PDF file metadata?

    And now he wants to lecture Doug on how only nationals should be able to participate in deciding a country´s position?

    The level of hypocrisy of this guy is amazing.

  17. Doug Mahugh says:

    Thanks for the tip, Mike.  Actually, I was surprised as anyone by the title on those cards — I was expecting "Technical Advisor" or something like that.  But the quality of the cards themselves is higher than you’ve heard; they’re not bad, really.

    Yes, Anon, same Yoon Kit.

  18. horns says:

    Malaysia should consider all the 1100 technical comments, considering only the country comments is a Microsoft trap.

  19. francis says:

    That’s enormouslly revealing. Is it widely known by other NB members there?

  20. Anon says:

    Mike you say "You don’t address Yoon Ki’t s major point: your right (or lack thereof) to be actually present at the meeting at all."

    Howcome IBM have that "right".

    (& are you the Mike Brown who comments on Ed Brill’s site too? Are you an IBM employee or Business Partner?)

  21. Anon says:

    Yoon Kit should explain how he – supposedly a Malaysian – wrote the comments submitted to ISO by Kenya.

    If this isn’t inappropriate, I don’t know what is.

  22. Anon says:


    That is preposterous. Why do you have to go to Thailand to get business cards?

    They are available in Kuala Lumpur, at every corner shop. for 10 bucks you get 200 cards. What’s more, they have these kids that will create that special card for you in CorelDraw. All done under 20 minutes.

  23. Andre says:

    Of course it is appropriate as it does not matter who wrote the comnments that a national body considers.

    Bugs are bugs regardless who files or endorses them.

    And as you know it is the national body who decides. How did Kenya vote in September?

  24. Doug Mahugh says:

    You’re an ambitious man, Mr. Rebentisch, if you think you can convince people that it’s appropriate for YK to say the things he’s been saying after writing another country’s comments.  Good luck!

  25. Andre,

    Nice to see the author of "A guided tour to European IT lobbying" doing his job.

    Your logic is excellent, I am glad to see you are promoting Open XML and ODF with equal vigour. Let me extrude your logic a little.

    "Standards are standards regardless who files or endorses them"

    I’m sure Microsoft are elated that you have given them free reign to set up a 500-strong "ODF Comments Division" protected from all negative press and Slashdot comments from your good self:

    "It does not matter who wrote the comments that a national body considers"

    You want to make sure you haven’t been to Seattle recently, or you might get savaged by your comrades for your new-found Microsoft love.


  26. Nobbin Sunar says:

    Hey Doug. I’m afraid I fail to see why that is inappropriate either… Please explain.

  27. Sam Vilain says:

    "You’re an ambitious man, Mr. Rebentisch, if you think you can convince people that it’s appropriate for YK to say the things he’s been saying after writing another country’s comments."

    Doug, you shoot your entire position in the foot by launching ad hominium attacks like that.

  28. Doug Mahugh says:

    Nobbin, I was commenting on what I think most people would feel, not just myself.  I think most people would think it’s not appropriate to write comments that another country submits to ISO/IEC and then complain bitterly about a person who tried unsuccesfully to attend another country’s TC meeting.

    Sam, are you saying that it’s an "ad hominium attack" to call Andre by his actual name?  My foot’s fine, but I wonder how Andre’s ego would feel about that claim.

  29. Benbow says:

    Neither do I consider it at all inappropriate that YK should help another country with technical matters.  In fact I consider it exactly the opposite – global co-operation in the very best spirit.

    Did not this whole furore start because you wanted to attend a meeting in a foreign country over technical matters?

    However I do think that political lobbying over technical matters is inappropriate.


  30. Remco says:

    I have now spent the better part of this day reading as much as I could about this issue. I read YK’s and DM’s.

    If you only read some of the material, you may at times feel compelled to agree with Dough.


    Considering the whole body of text I read from both parties there is only one conclusion:

    Doug ain’t stupid. He has no ethics.

  31. yoonkit says:

    > it’s appropriate for YK to say the things he’s been

    > saying after writing another country’s comments.

    Hi Doug,

    Is it OK if a Microsoft Employee from say, Senegal to represent another country, say Cote deIvoire, at an international event, like say, the BRM?

    Is that ethical?

    Is it OK for a Microsoft Employee to impersonate a TC Member’s organisation from another country to attend a foreign technical committee meeting?

    Is that ethical?

    Is it OK for a TC member to publish his work to fellow National Body members who are free to adopt as their own, as they too feel it is relevant to their interests and submit it?

    Is that ethical?

    Just asking.

    So, BTW, Doug, I did not travel all the way to Kenya, nor have I ever been an honourary Vice President of a Kenyan TC member organisation, nor have I represented a country other than mine.