By RAHIMI YUNUS
THE appointment of Augustus Ralph Marshall (picture) as the CEO at Digital Nasional Bhd (DNB) may have raised a few eyebrows, but an industry observer believes the decision was made in good faith and based on merit.
Asli Centre of Public Policy Studies chairman Tan Sri Dr Ramon Navaratnam said past allegations of misconduct against Marshall in India and Indonesia have not been proven, and one may want to give him the benefit of the doubt.
Ramon said Marshall has a proven corporate track record in business and leadership and it can only be assumed Putrajaya chose him for the CEO role after a thorough due diligence, taking competencies and ethics into account.
“If there is some truth in the allegations, then I think the Malaysian government would not have hired him. I can understand the logic because allegations can be wild and resonating from business rivals.
“I cannot imagine the government making such a big blunder to appoint somebody with bad business ethics. Otherwise, the government is to be blamed,” Ramon told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR).
He said any decision must be made based on evidence or else anybody can make allegations against somebody in order to deprive the person of jobs.
TMR has reached out to the Finance Ministry (MoF) for comments on Marshall’s appointment.
In September 2016, a special 2G court in India issued non-bailable arrest warrants against billionaire Tan Sri T Ananda Krishnan and Marshall in connection with a phone-licence corruption investigation. Marshall was the deputy chairman at Ananda-controlled Astro All Asia plc at the time.
Marshall resigned as non-ED of Maxis Bhd in July 2015 following a change in the nominee directors of Maxis Communications Bhd, the majority shareholder of Maxis.
There were also reports on allegations implicating Marshall over business matters in Indonesia in the past.
The MoF announced on Monday the appointment of the ministry’s secretary-general Datuk Asri Hamidon as DNB chairman and Marshall, former director and CEO of Astro Holdings Sdn Bhd, as its CEO.
Other board members appointed include Datuk Seri Dr Yusof Ismail, who is the DG of the Malaysian Administrative Modernisation and Management Planning Unit, Datuk Mohamed Shahril Tarmizi and Datuk Muthanna Abdullah.
Marshall is set to lead the special-purpose vehicle that will roll out the country’s 5G network with a proposed RM15 billion investment allocation over 10 years.
The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) in a statement yesterday said it will regulate and monitor DNB via the relevant regulatory tools under the Communications and Multimedia Act (CMA) 1998, to ensure, among others, optimum use of spectrum and that all telecommunications service providers will have open, fair and equal access in obtaining wholesale 5G network services for the development of retail services based on 5G technology.
MCMC said DNB will act as a wholesale neutral party that enables other licensed telecommunication companies (telcos) to focus on the latest technologies to develop innovative retail services as service offerings to consumers, enterprises and even the government.
It further said how the wholesale services offered by DNB will also be closely monitored by MCMC under the provisions of the CMA 1998.
“The objective of making Malaysia a digitalised nation as with the announcement of MyDigital recently, will require a robust, resilient and speedy effort by all parties, while adhering to the right governance and regulations,” the regulator said.
By removing the need for existing telcos to invest in 5G networks, MCMC said their efforts and resources can continue to be focused on improving and expanding 4G services and fibre networks under Jalinan Digital Negara, so crucial for the success of 5G deployment.
Malaysia is targeted to have 5G services available selectively beginning end-2021.