PETALING JAYA: Three listed companies are among the front-runners to bid for the multi-billion-ringgit Sistem Kawalan Imigresen Nasional (SKIN) replacement project, which will see a new integrated immigration system for Malaysia.
Sources said that out of some 60 companies that purchased the tender documents, the companies expected to be at the forefront are HeiTech Padu Bhd , Iris Corp Bhd and Scicom (MSC) Bhd .
“A lot of the companies, many of which are small ones, will not be able to qualify. Many are also companies that are not registered with the Finance Ministry, which is one of the main prerequisites for this exercise,” a source said, adding that this was put in place because the government wanted more local participation.
Getting a proper financing structure in place is another thing only the bigger boys can afford to do, he added.
The request for proposal (RFP) for a new immigration and border control system is aimed at replacing the now-defunct RM3.5bil SKIN project approved by the previous Barisan Nasional administration.
SKIN was meant to replace the existing Malaysian Immigration System (MyIMMS) built in the 1990s, which is said to be a patchwork of different systems, which, in turn, has led to oft-reported instances of border control compromise and the inability of the government to carry out crucial threat assessments.
MyIMMS is currently being maintained by HeiTech Padu - an information technology services provider controlled by Permodalan Nasional Bhd.
The maintenance contract is until August next year.
The system had received criticism for its flaws, with the Auditor General’s 2015 report saying that the system was “not up to mark”.
It was reported in 2016 that there were elements of sabotage in MyIMMs, where billions were siphoned into the hands of syndicates. This resulted in 15 Immigration Department officers being sacked.
“As for Iris Corp, they are the ones providing the chips for the passports. Scicom does a lot of back-end processing for foreign workers and immigration departments overseas.
“The main thing is the thumbprints that come in. While the system for Malaysian thumbprints is with the immigration, foreign thumbprints’ are handled by companies, where some will team up with the front-runner Heitech Padu,” said the source.
The Home Ministry issued the RFP last month, where minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said the decision to cancel SKIN was based on the need to develop a new system that was more comprehensive, efficient, user-friendly and one that is value-for-money which would bring savings to the government.
The Pakatan Harapan government terminated the SKIN project in December last year, which was secured by Prestariang Bhd , via its subsidiary Prestariang SKIN Sdn Bhd (PSKIN) on Aug 9, 2017.
It was supposed to be a 15-year concession to design, deliver, continuously maintain and provide scheduled upgrades for a new and improved immigration and border control system for the Immigration Department.
PSKIN would have received about RM3.5bil over the 15-year period, subject to the entire capital expenditure being privately funded by PSKIN.
“The government is now looking at RM3bil or less. The previous one was a direct negotiation. Now it is a direct tender,” said the source.
Interested parties have been invited to submit their proposals for the immigration system from May 15 to Aug 19.
The RFP, which began last week, was issued amid the ongoing RM733mil legal claim by Prestariang against the government for the unilateral termination of the SKIN project by way of expropriation.
PSKIN sued the government in April after the parties involved were “unable to reach an amicable settlement on the quantum”.
According to earlier reports, in the first three years (2018 to 2020), Prestariang was supposed to develop and deploy the system, and payments by the government to the company would only commence in 2021.
SKIN was initially projected to provide the information and communications technology firm an annual payment of about RM294.7mil from year four to year 15 during the maintenance and technical operation phase.
At the close, HeiTech Padu was 5.33% higher at 89 sen with 263,600 shares traded while Scicom’s shares rose 0.625 to 80.5 sen with 112,300 shares traded.
Iris Corp maintained at 15.5 sen but it was among the most active counter yesterday with 17.8 million shares exchanging hands.