Questions over YTL’s RM9b education deal

JULY 15, 2013
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PETALING JAYA, July 15 — YTL Corporation Bhd’s RM9 billion win of three school-tool projects has raised the suspicion of a DAP lawmaker who questioned today the Education Ministry’s award process to the infrastructure giant.

Bukit Bendera MP Zairil Khir Johari wants the ministry to divulge its reasons for giving YTL, a company known for its expertise in construction, property development and utilities but not education, lucrative contracts to wire up 10,000 schools nationwide and laptop distribution rights for the set-up of a virtual school.

“While I was prepared for startling figures in terms of expenditure for these various programmes, I must admit I wasn’t prepared for the fact that every single one of the above projects has been awarded to only one company — YTL Corporation Bhd — and its subsidiaries,” he said in a statement.

According to Zairil, the ministry had previously disclosed in answer to his questions in Parliament that YTL through its subsidiaries had been contracted to provide high-speed 4G broadband under the 1BestariNet programme to all schools at a cost of RM663 million for 2½ years.

He also claimed the conglomerate was also awarded RM250.5 million for fixed-term licensing fees and RM262.8 million for management and maintenance costs to build a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) platform for teachers, students and parents; and another contract worth RM139.6 million for an initial order of 116,399 units of Chromebooks under the 1 Student 1 Device programme, at a cost of RM1,200 per unit.

Zairil (picture) said his calculation showed the total cost of all three projects awarded to YTL could easily rise up to RM9 billion within a span of five years.

“Was there an open competitive tender process to supply the 4G broadband infrastructure, VLE as well as Chromebooks?

“Since when has YTL, a leading company in utilities, construction, property development and recently an Internet service provider, become an expert in education services?

“Besides the 4G broadband infrastructure in the 1BestariNet project, what makes YTL the best choice to provide not only the VLE software but also the Chromebook hardware when they are neither a software developer nor computer manufacturer?” he asked.

Zairil’s questions on the award process appear an attempt to shine light on the federal government’s opaque tender process that has drawn criticism and allegations that certain businessmen have benefited financially over the years from their close ties to the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition.

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