KUALA LUMPUR: YTL Communications Sdn Bhd has accused the Education Ministry of hiring three Internet service providers (ISPs), namely Telekom Malaysia, Celcom Axiata and Maxis, for schools although YTL offered free Internet services for the second half of this year in the interim period.
In a statement, YTL said the ministry had called for free Internet services for around 10,000 schools nationwide in the interim period from July 1, 2019, until the end of this year, pending a tender on Jan 1, 2020.
The wireless broadband service provider said the ministry had requested free Internet service during its meeting with Telekom Malaysia, Celcom Axiata, Maxis and other ISPs over the Phase 3 of the 1BestariNet project in April this year as “it did not have the budget” to pay for these services.
The 1BestariNet project was secured by YTL in 2011 after an open tender for a 15-year service contract to be implemented in phases.
The work entailed providing a total learning solution comprising Internet connectivity, security and Frog Virtual Learning Environment (Frog VLE), which enables teaching and learning using the latest digital tools.
It also alleged that the ministry had previously confirmed to the company that YTL would not be excluded from the tender to provide Internet connectivity when it announced for a fresh tender in July last year.
“YTL Communications wrote to Education Minister Maszlee Malik (pic) on May 31, 2019, confirming that we would provide a complete solution for free Internet services as well as the Frog VLE for the interim period until the tender was called and awarded.
“When the ministry announced on June 27, 2019, that it had awarded the interim services to Telekom Malaysia, Celcom Axiata and Maxis, it came as a complete surprise.
“The ministry has excluded YTL, reneged on its statement to call an open tender and agreed to pay for the Internet services to the three appointed ISPs although we offered the services for free,” YTL added.
No reasons were given for dismissing YTL in an Education Ministry statement on June 27.
In 2016, the Public Accounts Committee recommended the termination of YTL’s contract, citing the first phase of the project to be poorly delivered.
Given that the ministry is replacing the Frog VLE system in favour of Google Classrooms, the company warned that it would cause disruptions to schools, affecting up to five million students in the middle of the school year as the system has been integrated into the teaching systems of the participating schools.
“Having successfully completed Phases 1 and 2, Phase 3 would have seen the full adoption of digital teaching and learning in classrooms by January 2020.
“Changing the platform and starting all over again will set the entire education system backwards by years,” said YTL.
In order to prevent the disruptions, it added that Frog VLE would still be available to teachers despite the new policy by the ministry.
Moreover, YTL believes that the ministry’s actions are in breach of the contractual obligations to the company.
“We invested more than RM4bil building up the infrastructure in the schools for a 15-year project.
“It was our legitimate expectation that we would be given an extension of the contract into the next phase. We view the ministry’s actions as being in breach of its contractual obligations to us.
“Disappointingly, it has not acted in good faith in respect of what we have been informed and what has actually been implemented,” it added.