by Lim Kit Siang in Parliament on Tuesday, 4th
Are MCMC/Ministry dumb or just subservient
to Telekom Malaysia?
This is the question I posed to the Minister
for Energy, Water and Communications Datuk Shaziman Abu Mansor in
Parliament at close to 11 pm last night when winding up the debate on
behalf of his Ministry on the 2009 Budget debate.
I had queried Shaziman on why Telekom Malaysia Bhd (TM) was awarded the
RM11.3 billion HSBB (High Speed Broadband) project, subsidised with
RM2.4 billion of taxpayers’ money, when there was an alternative
proposal by HSBT (High Speed Broadband Technology Sdn Bhd) offering to
build a similar network without any subsidy?
I also challenged the government’s rationale in awarding the HSBB to
Telekom when Telekom must bear the greatest responsibility for
Malaysia’s failure to become a broadband power, left far behind in the
past decade by other countries when Malaysia had started on an equal
broadband footing with them.
South Korea has now a broadband penetration rate of 93 per cent , Hong
Kong at 30 per cent, as compared to Malaysia’s 13 per cent (Shaziman
corrected me and claimed that Malaysia’s broadband penetration rate is
now 17%) which includes Malaysia’s most extraordinary “low broadband
The main reason why Malaysia has lagged behind other countries in
broadband development must lie at the doorsteps of Telekom, which had
acted as an absolute bully in refusing to open up the last mile copper
to allow other industry players to buy the “last mile” at a fair price
and thus promote a full liberalisation of the telco industry.
This monopoly has not only allowed Telekom to have a stranglehold on the
other industry players, it has been most costly to the country in terms
of lost GDP in tens of billion of ringgit in the past decade, business
competitiveness as well as more efficient public service delivery.
I asked Shaziman whether he was aware of almost unanimous industry
opposition to the award of the HSSB project with RM2.4 billion
government subsidy to Telekom in view of its monopoly and role in
stunting the broadband growth of the nation in refusing to open up the
“last mile copper”.
As a result, the question that is universally asked in the industry is
whether the MCMC (Malaysia Communications and Multimedia Commission) and
the Ministry of Energy, Water and Communications are dumb or just
subservient to Telekom to allow Telekom to continue with its
untrammelled monopoly position and baneful influence on broadband growth
impeding and undermining a successful national broadband policy?
In the exchanges with Shaziman, I specifically asked why there was no
open tender for the HSBB project and why HSBT offer to execute the HSBB
project without a single sen of public funds, depending on Middle East
funding and expertise from South Korea and Japan, was rejected by the
Even in Singapore, SingTel which is like TM as the erstwhile monopoly
Telco, was not given the sole right to build the island republic’s HSSB.
Shaziman did not have the answers to my questions, except to give an
assurance that as the Minister responsible, he would not allow Telekom
Malaysia to be a “bully” in the IT industry.
I concluded my intervention in the debate by recommending four measures
for Shaziman to consider to resolve the national misgivings as well as
the concerns of the IT industry to the award of the RM11.3 billion HSBB
project to Telekom, viz:
• Carry out using a third party to review
industry feedback on the award of the HSBB project (RM2.4 billion
subsidy) to TM.
• Turn the TM HSSB network into a truly open network from the outset
and not to wait for seven years.
• Call a tender for the award of another HSSB network.
• Use a third party to derive the formula for fair access pricing to
TM HSSB network.
Kit Siang, DAP
Parliamentary leader & MP for Ipoh Timor