THEY SAY Anwar Ibrahim does not have that ‘killer instinct’. I think it’s true, sometimes. The Opposition leader was one of the first to raise questions about the RM11 billion 5G conundrum back in July but there was hardly any follow through.
Not too late, though. During the Budget 2022 debate in Parliament, Anwar can still lead a campaign to voice out against this opaque, highly-suspicious and potentially disastrous scheme. We need to press PM Ismail Sabri to go back to the drawing board and review the nation’s 5G rollout.
Our 5G story so far:
Instead of assigning 5G spectrum to multiple private mobile network operators (such as Celcom and Maxis), Malaysia’s previous government led by Muhyiddin Yassin decided to go with a SWN (single wholesale network) approach. According to GSMA Intelligence, only three networks in this whole wide world have been rolled out, with other markets beset by slow progress and delayed or cancelled launches. Kenya, Russia and South Africa abandoned SWN projects, while those that are live today have all experienced difficulties. (Read GSMA raises concerns over Malaysia’s 5G rollout).The rest of the world, in the meantime, decided it would be smarter to auction their 5G to their existing telcos. The Thais, for example, whom we think are not as smart as us, raised US$3.2 billion from their auction exercises recently. The Canadian spectrum auction raised a whopping US$8.9 billion. Singapore and the US are also expected to earn billions of dollars from selling their 5G spectrums via open tenders, not SWN.
The Muhyiddin Yassin administration saw 5G as a legitimate means to build a war chest (for the next general election). That’s the talk, anyway, and of course they will says it’s crap but then again, the facts are: the people pushing hard for the idea sat/sit on high-level economic advisory committees; the SPV created to oversee the SWN is Digital Nasional Berhad, which comes directly under the Minister of Finance, who was appointed by Muhyiddin (or, some says, by the King himself); Digital Nasional Berhad’s plan is to spend RM11 billion to get 5G to Cyberjaya, Putrajaya and KL by Christmas this year (and nationwide by 2024), whereas, f we were to auction the 5G spectrum to the existing players (Celcom, Maxis, etc), the Government could be earning (instead of spending) RM12 billion!
If more talk (or more crap?) were to be believed, this 5G scheme will benefit FIVE people, who will end up with hundreds of millions in their bank accounts to last at least 5 generations. All five are already shameless cronies: a former banker who became a media baron; his good pal who used to lord over the 4th floor operations of a former prime minister; a royal pain; a former banker who came into the government via the back door and harbours /hopes to run in the next general election; and a former Prime Minister.
They must be stopped.
P.S. Former Cabinet Minister Mohd Shafie Afdal was also one of the early ones to raise the red flag on Muhyiddin-Tengku Zafrul’s 5G grand scheme. Instead of spending RM11 billion, Shafie said the Government could easily EARN RM12 billion from the 5G spectrum. Perhaps Anwar and Shafie should set aside their differences for once and work together and stop this 5G spectre.
Tengku Zafrul, the MOF, tables the 2022 Budget this Friday.