As a business, we have always sought to resolve matters amicably, says YTL Communications Sdn Bhd (YTLC) in a statement issued yesterday in regards to the 1BestariNet free Internet service (FIS) provided to more than 10,000 schools. -- NSTP Archive

KUALA LUMPUR: YTL Communications Sdn Bhd (YTLC) has expressed “extreme disappointment” with statements made by the Education Ministry (MoE) on July 5.

“"YTL Communications is extremely disappointed that the press statement issued by the Ministry of Education on 5 July 2019 and statements made at the press conference on the same day have made us appear to have taken advantage of the Government.”

This is with regard to the 1BestariNet free Internet service (FIS) provided to more than 10,000 schools.

In a statement issued yesterday, YTLC said it had won the open tender to secure the project and was “entitled to rely on fair business dealings”.

The response came following a statement by the Education Ministry which listed five reasons why it had discontinued the 1BestariNet free Internet service contract which was agreed for a 15-year term in rolling phases.

“As a business, we have always sought to resolve matters amicably.

“We cannot allow our reputation to be sullied by unfounded claims.

“Hence, we have to set the record straight.

“The National Broadband initiative was launched to increase broadband penetration across the population.

“Bidders were required to invest in telecommunication towers or lay fibre to rural areas as more than 70 per cent at rural and remote schools in this country.

“The process, by which each phase was to be awarded, was clearly set out in the project documents; there would be a joint review on performance, changes in technology, basic educational needs and price prior to the expiry of each phase and before parties reach agreement on the next phase.”

YTLC said it did not object to the new government’s call for a fresh tender early this year as transparency was clearly important to the Pakatan Harapan government and the company said it was fully supportive of this.

“After the announcement, we waited for nine months for the tender to be called and it was only at a meeting on April 23 that we were informed that the ministry was not ready for the tender.

“It was at the ministry’s request that we offered in good faith to provide Internet services and the Frog Virtual Learning Environment (Frog VLE) to the ministry during the interim period of six months from July 1 to 31 Dec (interim period) free of charge,” the statement said.

On June 27, YTLC said the ministry did not respond to the letter and instead awarded the Internet services for the interim period to Telekom Malaysia, Celcom Axiata and Maxis.

YTLC claimed that the government had breached their contract as no joint review was undertaken as required under the contract with no open tender called.

It also said that if a review had been undertaken, it would have identified the areas of improvement for the next phase and the government would have saved millions if it had accepted the free service during the interim period.

The telecommunications company, however, said it remained committed to playing its part in improving education in the country.