PETALING JAYA: Deputy multimedia and communications minister Zahidi Zainul Abidin said his former boss, Saifuddin Abdullah and finance minister Tengku Zafrul Aziz were involved in secret talks on the nation’s 5G network rollout and Digital Nasional Berhad (DNB).
Last week, Zahidi told the Dewan Rakyat that the finance ministry decided to appoint DNB to manage the country’s 5G network and had not discussed DNB’s appointment with his ministry – which Tengku Zafrul and Saifuddin both then denied.
“I’m a bit disappointed as the previous minister, Datuk Seri Saifuddin Abdullah, said he had discussed this with the finance minister,” said Zahidi at a press conference in Parliament.
“So, the two ministers spoke among themselves and implemented this DNB project that involves almost RM20 billion without discussing it with their subordinates. Even the deputy didn’t know.
“… I hope it was not just a discussion between two people where Saifuddin talks to Zafrul and both of them say ‘OK, OK, OK’, and then, the project is implemented.
“Let us not be secretive, because I have to answer in Parliament and I also have to be responsible to the Opposition, who also have to know about this. We have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with them.
“Our MPs have to know. The rakyat have to know. Don’t make this a secret between two ministers, a RM20 billion secret project.”
He also sarcastically said that Saifuddin might not have informed him about the talks as he was from a different party – Zahidi is from Umno and Saifuddin is with Bersatu, which he joined from PKR.
Zahidi also said his ministry had received complaints from companies who bid on the 5G contract and had claimed that the tender process was not done transparently.
He added that secrecy in such matters would cause the public to think that “personal interests” were involved.
DNB, an agency wholly owned by the finance ministry, has been tasked with building and managing the country’s 5G network, but has run into problems with poor take-up by telcos.
Swedish telecommunications giant Ericsson won a RM11 billion contract to serve as DNB’s network equipment provider after an open tender process.
DNB says the rollout will cost RM20 billion over 10 years, with the funding coming from bank loans and sukuk funds.
“This project is the rakyat’s project, and it involves RM20 billion. So, the rakyat want to know about all the details, like why DNB and Ericsson have been given a monopoly.
“What is the mitigation plan, the risk management? If Ericsson goes bankrupt, what will happen to this project? The rakyat want to know,” said Zahidi.