MCMC studies Huawei in Malaysia’s 5G project

By NG MIN SHEN / Pic By MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

The government’s decision to allow Huawei Technologies Co Ltd’s participation in the country’s 5G project will hinge on the result of the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission’s (MCMC) probe into the global cyber-security concerns that surround the telecommunications giant.

Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo said MCMC is looking into all the related matters and will subsequently come up with a report.

“They are in the process of doing this investigation. Let them do what they have to do, then we’ll discuss what to do next in dealing with this whole new area of technology,” he told reporters at the launch of HeiTech Padu Bhd’s HeiTech Venture Builder Programme in Shah Alam yesterday.

Gobind said an issue has also been raised in regard to the government’s plan to equip Cyberjaya and Putrajaya with fibre-ready networks as 5G testbed areas.

“We are also in the process of starting a pilot project using 5G in Cyberjaya and Putrajaya. In this matter, of course, there have been many concerns raised, including the concern regarding 5G and Huawei.

“Let the MCMC do its study and when they have a report, we will decide what to do,” he said.

The minister’s statement follows a Jan 24 report by The Malaysian Reserve that the National Cyber Security Agency (NACSA) has initiated a probe into the alleged cyber spy threats surrounding Huawei.

MCMC chairman Al-Ishsal Ishak had said the NACSA is leading the engagements with its counterparts in countries that have taken a stand against Huawei, while the MCMC and CyberSecurity Malaysia are consulted on specific topics.

There is no official deadline set for the tabulation of MCMC’s report, Gobind said, adding that he himself has not given the regulator a deadline to complete the study.

“I’m not sure whether they have given themselves a deadline. We will decide what to do with the report when it is completed, whether to make it public,” Gobind said.

He said the focus on 5G should be on how to ensure the security of the network, as it is anticipated to be a technology that will greatly impact future operations and the way technology works in the years to come.

Huawei has been in the spotlight in recent weeks as several major economies including the US and Australia have moved to stop the Chinese telecommunications giant from participating in domestic 5G infrastructure due to allegations of cyber espionage, while Germany’s Deutsche Telekom AG is reviewing its vendor strategy and France’s Orange SA said it will not use Huawei as a 5G supplier.

While Huawei’s primary business is the production and marketing of smartphones, it is also a global leader in telecommunications infrastructure and is one of the firms that developed 5G, the next generation of mobile Internet connectivity.

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said on Jan 19 that the administration would conduct a study on the issue before excluding Huawei from building its 5G network in Malaysia.

Dr Mahathir said to date, the government has not found the company guilty of any wrongdoing on Malaysian soil.

Council of Eminent Persons chairman Tun Daim Zainuddin has also voiced his concerns regarding China’s 5G technology and its potential to be abused by illegitimate parties to steal important information and encroach on Malaysia’s “digital sovereignty”.

However, according to Daim, the government has no plans to stop Huawei from operating in Malaysia, as the authority is capable of assessing cyber and digital security threats.