Recently, a tender being awarded by the government stirred many Malaysians’ suspicions.
5G telecommunications project awarded to small politically-connected firm
The tender was a project a lot of big companies had their eyes on. And this award raised eyebrows mainly because:
- One of the companies is Altel, a company people barely heard of before
- Altel is controlled by Syed Mokhtar al-Bukhary, a well-connected man
- Apparently done without an open tender as promised previously
Nothing was announced, everything was done quietly
Malaysians were excited to be updated about the progress, as the 5G could speed up our connectivities up to 20 times compared to our existing 4G one. However, despite this 5G project being HUGE, no media attention was called. Everything seemed to be done very hush-hush.
Besides that, here are some other key points:
- Signed orders of the award was uploaded to a the MCMC website in a section which is covered with other stuff, making it hard to find or notice
- Big companies that were awarded are public listed, and this kind of award would usually be announced to the stock exchange (but that didn’t happen)
- Altel, a minor player was given 2x5MHz, the same amount as Telekom Malaysia
Altel was previously criticised very heavily by unfair grants by government
In late 2012, Altel was awarded with the most amount of spectrum in the 2.6GHz band for 4G services by MCMC. However, instead of building its own infrastructure, it leased them to other telcos. Additionally, Altel was said to ‘piggyback’ on Celcom to offer its mobile network services.
According to The Star, the government’s role in how Syed Mokhtar rose to become one of the richest men in Malaysia has been criticised for many, many years.
After social media uproar, minister makes U-turn
Only a day after the news of the hush-hush award broke out, Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah made an announcement to cancel his order to award portions of the tender, reports The Edge.
Telcos he previously awarded to were,
- Maxis Bhd
- DiGi.Com Bhd
- Telekom Malaysia Bhd
- Axiata Group Bhd
- Altel Communications Sdn Bhd
“Based on technical issues, laws and the need to follow a clear process, I have ordered the chairman of the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) to cancel the above orders and findings, and to reevaluate the instruments with immediate haste,” he said in a statement.
He mentions that the government was committed to develop the country by giving the best service in technology and telecommunications.
So, for now, we’ll have to wait to see what the award will be!
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