Putrajaya cancels order to award 5G to firms after ‘no open tender’ claim

Communications and Multimedia Minister Saifuddin Abdullah says his decision was made on legal and technical grounds as well as the need to go through a transparent process.

PETALING JAYA: Communications and Multimedia Minister Saifuddin Abdullah has cancelled an order to award the 5G telecommunications spectrum to several firms.

The minister said he was doing so on legal and technical grounds as well as the need to go through a transparent process.

It was earlier reported that the awards — including to a firm linked to tycoon Syed Mokhtar al-Bukhary —had been done seemingly without an open tender.

Saifuddin said 18 instruments, including the directive and determination of the use of the 700MHz, 900MHz and 2600MHz band spectrum frequency, were presented to him.

“I have ordered the MCMC (Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission) chairman to cancel the order and review the instruments immediately,” he said in a statement.

This morning, it was reported that Putrajaya had awarded the 5G telecommunications spectrum to several firms, including one called Altel, which is controlled by Syed Mokhtar.

The Straits Times (ST) reported that the May 15 decision, “seemingly without an open tender”, was signed off by Saifuddin. The decision was also unannounced.

Saifuddin made no mention of this report in his statement.

A source confirmed the report’s claim to FMT, acknowledging that the award had been made.

The previous Pakatan Harapan government had said it would forgo revenue from spectrum auctions and instead allocate airwaves to a consortium of carriers via a tender starting after April.

PH lost control of the government to Perikatan Nasional in March.

But ST said a check of the MCMC website found that no tenders were called.

According to the Singapore daily, Maxis, Celcom and DiGi were awarded two bands of 10 megahertz (2x10MHz).

Altel, a subsidiary of Syed Mokhtar’s Puncak Semangat, was given 2x5MHz “despite being a minor player”.

Telekom Malaysia was also allocated 2x5MHz.

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