New PM Anwar to put Malaysian 5G plan under review

anwar 5G
FILE PHOTO: Malaysia's Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim speaks during a news conference to announce his cabinet at Putrajaya, Malaysia December 2, 2022. REUTERS/Hasnoor Hussain

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) – Malaysia’s newly appointed Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim said on Monday his administration will review a plan for a state-owned 5G network introduced by a previous government, as it was not formulated transparently.

Under the premiership of Muhyiddin Yassin in 2021, Malaysia unveiled a plan for a state-owned agency, Digital Nasional Berhad (DNB), to own all 5G spectrum, with various carriers using the infrastructure to provide mobile services.

The single-ownership of spectrum raised concerns from the country’s major carriers over pricing, transparency and monopoly.

Anwar says DNB plan not transparent

The 5G plans will be evaluated to ensure they strictly followed procedures, Anwar said at a news conference following his first cabinet meeting.

“It needs to be reviewed because it was not done in a transparent manner,” Anwar said, without giving details.

A spokesperson for Muhyiddin was not immediately available for comment. His government has defended the 5G plan, saying it will reduce costs, improve efficiency and accelerate infrastructure development.

The government will also revise and improve the 2023 budget tabled in October, Anwar said. The budget was presented in parliament by the previous government, but was not passed due to the general election.

Anwar also said his government will not roll back certain decisions made by the previous administration, but he did not identify them.

Meet the new boss

Anwar was appointed premier by the king last month, after the election resulted in an unprecedented hung parliament. Anwar’s bloc did not win a simple majority but he formed a coalition government with the help of other political blocs.

On Friday, he named his cabinet, which includes an ally accused of graft as his deputy.

Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, a co-deputy premier, is on trial over 47 charges of bribery, money laundering and criminal breach of trust. He has pleaded not guilty.

Anwar said he would not compromise on his pledge to fight corruption despite Ahmad Zahid’s appointment.

“I trust my cabinet team is determined to ensure we follow strict rules and the principles of good governance,” he said, adding that previous systems “allowed leaders to steal”.

(By Rozanna Latiff; Reporting by Rozanna Latiff; Writing by A. Ananthalakshmi; Editing by Kanupriya Kapoor)

Related article: Malaysian 5G to kick into gear with new DNB deals

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