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Saturday, November 27, 2010

Yes, people first, performance now

NOV 26 — When YTL Communications Sdn Bhd launched their YES service last week, a combination of hype, high expectations and hollow promises brought down their website and hobbled their business.

It took them at least two years to get their service online and a few days later to actually get it moving to market expectations. Today, Singapore's Straits Times report that their block of 80Mhz in the 700Mhz spectrum has got their rivals up in arms to twig the ears of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

Najib is due to meet them on Monday to address their concerns about the particular spectrum given to YTL Communications, which today confirmed it has a five-year licence to use it for pay-television services, not mobile broadband.

For YTL Communications, it is a simple proposition. They want to invest in digital pay-television in the footsteps of Astro.

For them, it’s about television, not just broadband. So they can't understand the fuss from other mobile broadband operators.

Fair enough. But here's the rub. The Malaysian Communication and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) operates under strict rules about assigning spectrum, not some cloak-and-dagger way of issuing licences and permits.

And strangely enough, it actually announced that it handed out blocks of 20Mhz to nine firms for the 2.5/2.6Ghz spectrum to be used for the 4G or Long Term Evolution (LTE) under the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

It didn't announce that YTL Communications received a block of 80Hmz for the 700Mhz spectrum. And YTL was circumspect about the licence.

The fuss over that block would suggest that it is highly prized and could have fetched a premium if auctioned the same way the MCMC auctioned off 3G licences for RM50 million each in 2002 in its so-called beauty contest. But it didn't and the prime minister has to step in to resolve the widening controversy.

It has led to accusations of cronyism at a time when the government needs to clean up its image and perception of being corrupt which Putrajaya has dismissed recently. But the YTL episode shows that there are parts of government where decisions are made in the shadows and in a stealthy way.

Perhaps it was a straight-forward decision for a venture which an entrepreneurial company like YTL sees opportunity. Just as it did in the power sector when it became an independent power producer under the Mahathir administration.

But the days of deciding behind closed doors are over. It’s the era of transparency. All parts of government must learn that now.

Putrajaya is not a cowboy town where every one has a six-shooter and can fire at will, or rather decide with impunity who gets the bonanza.

And not all players can expect a slice of the pie just because they have been in the business for so long while the Johnny-come-lately waits his turn.

There is only one standard in 1 Malaysia. It's People First. Performance Now. - Malaysian Insider

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