Local ICT companies cry foul over selection of foreign companies for major projects

by HARIZAH KAMEL/ pic by BERNAMA

LOCAL players in the information and communications technology (ICT) industry expressed disappointment in the government for excluding them in major projects.

The Malaysian Association of Bumiputera ICT Industry and Entrepreneurs (NEF) president Khairil Iszuddin Ismail said for too long they witnessed acquisitions and projects launched, especially large-scale projects, being awarded to foreign companies.

“Existing government policies are in favour of foreign companies instead of local companies’ products and solutions,” he said in a recent statement.

He gave several examples of projects including the MySejahtera app that is developed in collaboration with US-based KPISoft Inc, which also has a headquarters in Singapore.

Another example is the MyFutureJobs by the Social Security Organisation under the short-term National Economic Recovery Plan, which uses technological expertise from the Netherlands.

“It is not advisable for foreign companies with large capital to benefit from the government’s money and the people’s tax money for their progress while local companies that fight for their lives have to compete with limited capital.

“In other cases, some parties were so eager to bring overseas competitors to settle in Malaysia and to kill local tech companies. It is even sadder when it is backed by the government or by political support,” he said.

He also urged for an official policy to prioritise local companies in the acquisition and development of ICT-based projects and formulate an official policy allowing open source as it can help develop local ICT talent.

He believes that many local companies have high-tech solutions and capabilities of taking up largescale government projects.

“The policy of giving priority to local companies is not only to ensure that the project is produced with high quality, but to improve the country’s economy and to provide high-income employment opportunities among the people,” Khairil Iszuddin added.

He highlighted several examples of local companies’ projects and initiatives that demonstrate their capabilities in helping the government and the needs of the public.

“The CoronaTracker was developed through crowdsourcing and local volunteers who did not receive any remuneration. MyBanjir was also developed by local unpaid volunteers through crowdsourcing to assist with the Kuala Krai floods not long ago.

“DATA8 Sdn Bhd had quickly volunteered their service to develop a Covid-19 screening record system for the Sungai Buloh Hospital while Datang.my which was developed by Universiti Tenaga Nasional students who donated the system to be used by schools to record school attendance, while placing a high priority on privacy in the era of Covid-19,” said Khairil Iszuddin.

He said it should be the policy of the government to help defend local companies and to develop the domestic economy and he has made several proposals to the government.

This includes creating a more comprehensive due diligence process where local companies are given priority, engagements with local companies first from the initial phase of developing products and providing solutions to the public.