PUTRAJAYA: There was no breach of agreement as the contract with YTL Communications Sdn Bhd (YTLC) for Phase 2 of the 1BestariNet virtual learning in schools ended on June 30, says Education Ministry secretary-general Datuk Dr Mohd Gazali Abas.
“The ministry didn’t end the contract. YTLC was awarded the contract for 1BestariNet Phase 1 from Dec 13, 2011 until June 30, 2016.“There were seven extensions of the contract before Phase 2, which ran from July 1, 2016 until June 30 this year.
“Thus, allegations that the Education Ministry had breached its contract obligation and was unfair to YTLC, as well as claims that the ministry had terminated the contract, are unfair and false.
“It is not that we are saying YTLC is not good but we want to find the best, so we are using this interim to try other service providers,” he told a press conference yesterday to address YTLC’s allegations that the ministry had acted unfairly.
During this six-month period, the ministry wanted to source for the best Internet service provider “so that our students get the best technology, services and Internet connectivity at the best cost”.
Mohd Gazali said YTLC was still welcome to bid for the open tender for the three-year contract for the next phase.
He added that the ministry took into consideration its experience working with YTLC over the past eight years when deciding on who would be the Internet service providers (ISPs) during the interim period, which began on July 1 and will end on Dec 31.
“We know their strengths and weaknesses,” he said, adding that the ministry had paid YTLC around RM3.8bil for Phases 1 and 2 of 1BestariNet.
He concurred that YTLC had delivered on some of the improvements it promised between Phases 1 and 2, “but we need more improvements moving forward”.
He said YTLC was given the contract for Phase 2 through direct negotiation as they were still the best service provider at the time.He said the ministry was using the interim to gauge the services provided by the three ISPs – Telekom Malaysia, Celcom Axiata and Maxis.Mohd Gazali said the major telco companies were invited to a briefing in April on the ministry’s requirements for this interim period and that YTLC was also called.
He said YTLC had been using the communication towers they built in schools, known as the 1BestariNet Receiver Integrated System (1BRIS), for commercial use for YES 4G.
This would not be an issue if they were contributing to the school’s electricity bill, which shot up to at least RM200 after installing the towers,” he added.
He also said YTLC was only being charged RM10 per month as site rental for 1BRIS when the average market rate for such a site is RM2,000 per month.
He acknowledged that this was the agreement in the Phase 1 contract, but the ministry wanted to charge more since the towers were clearly not being used just for the schools.
The government stood to earn RM32.5mil (throughout the six-month interim) in commercial structure rent if they charged the actual rate, but YTLC did not want to pay this price, he said.
On YTLC’s offer to provide free Internet and Frog Virtual Learning Environment (Frog VLE) during the six months, Mohd Gazali said they were only going to give 4MBPs Internet speed, which is inadequate for schools.
He added that the ministry was not ignoring YTLC’s offer but their contract with the ministry had ended.
The ministry, he said, was responding to feedback from schools, teachers and parents that 1BestariNet and Frog VLE were problematic.
At the same press conference, National Union of the Teaching Profession president Aminuddin Awang said the union supported the ministry’s decision to let other telcos provide Internet access to schools for the next six months as a “trial phase”. — he said.