Frankly Speaking: Will MoE’s response end spat with YTL?

This article first appeared in The Edge Malaysia Weekly, on July 8, 2019 - July 14, 2019.
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Last week, YTL Communications Sdn Bhd — a 60% unit of YTL Power International Bhd — said the Ministry of Education had breached its contractual obligations over the supply of free internet connectivity to 10,000 schools nationwide.

It made the claim even as three companies — Telekom Malaysia Bhd, Celcom Axiata Bhd and Maxis Bhd — were appointed providers of interim internet services in end-June for the second half of the year, replacing YTL Communications, which had been awarded the 1BestariNet project in 2011.

Clearly not pleased, YTL Communications said that after spending RM4 billion on infrastructure, getting an extension for the 15-year project was a “legitimate expectation”.

But the next day, the Education Ministry explained that the hidden costs of YTL Communications’ offer was the main reason it did not get Phase 3 of the project.  According to the ministry,  the company had set certain requirements, including the provision of free electricity for telecommunications towers, which were also used for commercial purposes.

The company had not paid electricity charges amounting to RM41 million for  the towers it had installed in schools and government premises, the ministry said, while the quality of internet access provided was also not satisfactory.  It added that it would incur a potential loss of rental revenue of RM32.58 million from the towers for June to December this year.

Given this explanation by the ministry, it is now up to YTL Communications to respond if it feels that it has been unfairly treated. Perhaps the best way forward would be to reveal the full details of the agreement for the public to know or even to seek legal recourse so that these details can surface in court.

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