YTL is expecting an open tender for 1BestariNet project, not contract extension

The company claims there was no tender called despite the announcement made by the deputy education minister in July 2018

by NUR HAZIQAH A MALEK/ pic by BERNAMA

YTL Communications Sdn Bhd is anticipating the Ministry of Education (MoE) to call for an open tender for the new phase of 1BestariNet project instead of an extension for its earlier contract that ended on June 30, 2019.

The company clarified in a statement yesterday that it was also relying on the ministry to set out new requirements and terms that would be included in the tender.

“What we did not expect was that they neither called an open tender nor complied with their contractual obligations,” YTL’s statement read.

On June 27, the MoE announced the award to provide Internet services for 10,000 schools was secured by Telekom Malaysia Bhd (TM), Celcom Axiata Bhd and Maxis Bhd.

YTL claimed there was no tender called despite the announcement made by the deputy education minister in July 2018.

The services were instead awarded to the three Internet service providers s in the face of YTL’s offer to provide free services.

“Suffice to say that these reasons were never communicated to us despite many attempts to meet the minister and the secretary general,” YTL said.

It also added that when the fresh tender was announced, YTL was pleased to support the efforts of the new government and was fully prepared to participate in the open tender.

“From the beginning of the year, we had made repeated enquiries with the ministry as to when the tender would be issued.

“It was only at a meeting on April 23 attended by, among others, TM, Celcom Axiata, Maxis and YTL, that we were informed there would be a delay of six months and were asked to offer free Internet services to the ministry for this interim period,” it said.

According to YTL’s press statement on July 3, the group did not receive any response from the ministry.

“As to whether the terms of the 1BestariNet contract were attractive or not, it was objectively the best the ministry had obtained via an open tender involving 19 companies.
“On the part of YTL, we had, in reliance on the terms of the tender and the contract, invested extensively in infrastructure for the 15-year term of the project,” it said.

Last week, it was reported the ministry listed five reasons why it rejected YTL’s offer to extend the 1BestariNet free Internet service contract.

MoE chief secretary Datuk Dr Mohd Ghazali Abas said the first reason was pertaining to a “hidden cost” following the company’s refusal to pay electricity charges incurred by telecommunication towers that it installed since Phase 2, which resulted in the government having to fork out RM41.88 million to foot the bill for 2,715 towers.

Secondly, there was a potential the government would lose a commercial rental income of RM195.48 million within the first six months of the company’s interim offer, followed by the recurring of weaknesses in YTL’s 1BestariNet Phase 2 project and not being able to explore the latest and most suitable technology.

The reasons were wrapped up with the fifth: The national digital education impact and direction studies found that the Internet connectivity’s quality provided by YTL was not satisfactory.

YTL had secured the 1BestariNet contract in 2011 to provide Internet connectivity and a virtual learning platform called Frog Virtual Learning Environment (Frog VLE) to 10,000 schools in the nation for a period of 15 years.

The contract was to be implemented in rolling phases with a joint review on performance, technology changes, basic educational needs and price prior to each phase’s expiry.

The Frog VLE has a library of curated teaching and learning content, including a repository of over seven million quizzes mapped to the national syllabus in every subject, including for Chinese and Tamil schools.

With YTL having completed Phases 1 and 2 with Frog VLE, Phase 3 would have been the complete adoption of digital teaching and learning in classrooms by January 2020.