PKR treasurer Lee Cheang Chung questions why Saifuddin Abdullah had switched support to a one-company model.

PETALING JAYA: A PKR leader has urged communications and multimedia minister Saifuddin Abdullah to explain why he has agreed to a single-company method of rolling out 5G mobile technology instead of the consortium plan previously adopted by Pakatan Harapan.

The finance ministry announced yesterday that a special purpose vehicle, Digital Nasional Berhad, would own the 5G spectrum and will, build and operate the 5G network and sell spectrum and network access to telecommunications companies.

PKR treasurer Lee Chean Chung described it as a regressive approach. “It is not a cost-effective and efficient way to roll out our 5G infrastructure,” he said.

He said the previous Pakatan Harapan government had proposed a consortium comprising telco companies to be set up to develop the infrastructure. The spectrum rights would then be allocated by open tender basis, ensuring transparency.

Lee said he wanted to know why Saifuddin, his former PKR ally, was now supportive of the SPV model instead of the one chosen by the PH administration which he said was in line with the global trend.

“In Singapore and the US, the government would receive billions from allocation of 5G spectrum via open tenders. They also encourage industry players to optimise resources and reduce wastage through the formation of consortiums.”

“However, in Malaysia, we are spending RM15 billion beforehand, coupled with the risk of the government monopolising the 5G market, which is against the national interest.”

Former prime minister Najib Razak also said the government’s model was “very different” from other countries which awarded 5G licenses by open tender.

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“In other words, the governments of other countries get paid billions by telcos but in Malaysia, the government will foot the RM15 billion bill to build the 5G infrastructure,” he said in a Facebook post.

Najib said telcos already had existing 3G and 4G infrastructure and the costs and time they would need to upgrade to 5G would be much less compared to that incurred by the government-owned company.

He said the previous 5G plan would have taken five years at a cost of RM7.5 billion, while the current plan calls for RM15 billion over 10 years.



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