Malaysia defends government email project
Malaysia on Friday defended a multi-million dollar plan to provide email accounts to its citizens against accusations of cronyism and waste.
The government last month said technology firm Tricubes would carry out the 50 million ringgit ($17 million) scheme to set up new email accounts for people to receive government mail.
The choice of Tricubes, which faces delisting from the local bourse over financial irregularities, has been widely criticised, while opponents also say the project is redundant as most Internet users hold free email addresses.
The government defended the selection of Tricubes in advertorials in several major daily newspapers, adding that the email service would save 200 million ringgit over the next decade, halving the 1 ringgit cost of posting a letter.
"A competitive selection process was undertaken to ensure high technical standards and the right business model are adopted at the lowest cost and highest quality," Idris Jala, minister in charge of government reform, said in the two-page advertorial.
Opposition lawmaker Tony Pua urged the government to disclose further details on how the contract was awarded to Tricubes.
"At best, it's the government not knowing what they are doing. At worst, it could be the government granting concessions to crony companies," Pua told AFP.
The email scheme is the second major project to face strong opposition after the government last October announced the construction of a 100-storey, $1.6 billion mega tower.
A survey by an independent research firm found almost two-thirds of Malaysians opposed the plan, with many saying that money would better spent on education, healthcare and public transport.
Najib's administration faces accusations of economic mismanagement and abuse of power despite implementing plans to reform the government and transform the economy, ahead of polls widely expected to be called within the next year.
(c) 2011 AFP