KUALA LUMPUR, April 21 — The Performance Management and Delivery Unit (Pemandu) has said government agencies will pay Tricubes Bhd to use the company’s 1 Malaysia e-mail database, which it called both a government and private initiative.
“Agencies would have to pay a certain fee to use that, as in any other e-mail database,” business services NKEA communications content and infrastructure director Dr Fadhlullah Suhaimi Abdul Malek said in an interview on radio station BFM today.
He said Tricubes’ database of verified e-mail addresses would ensure that correspondence from government agencies got to their intended recipients, adding that this would “quickly move citizens into the digital age”.
“What’s important is actually the database,” he said. “That... information gets verified because it is then linked to the National Registration (Department).”
Tricubes was involved in the nationwide deployment of the country’s MyKad identity card system and supplies biometric scanners to 170 organisations.
Fadhlullah Suhaimi said he expected agencies to pay Tricubes about 50 sen per e-mail, cheaper than the RM1.00 printing, stationery, postage and dispatch cost of sending a regular letter.
He said that, as the per unit cost of regular mail might double to RM2.00 if a misaddressed letter was sent back on the taxpayer’s dime, the government stood to save between 50 sen to RM1.00 per e-mail.
“The poor taxpayer, without realising, is actually allowing wastage of RM2.00 per post that goes out,” Fadhlullah Suhaimi said.
He cautioned, however, that these expected savings were based on Tricubes’ own estimates. He said the actual cost per unit would vary depending on the volume and complexity of the transaction, as well as the number of people who eventually sign up.
Reflecting the earlier confusion on Pemandu’s website, Fadhlullah Suhaimi first said the 1 Malaysia e-mail project was “government initiated and private sector led” before referring to it later as a “private sector initiative”.
Pemandu was forced earlier today to defend changes on its webpage for the 1 Malaysia email project, claiming the switch of the project’s description from a government to a private sector initiative was to correct “a genuine error”.
Fadhlullah Suhaimi nonetheless stressed that no public funds would be used at any point to develop the e-mail service despite the fact that it may fail.
He said the project would be entirely market-driven, with Tricubes bearing the risk entirely if the 1 Malaysia e-mail project does not get off the ground.
“They must make it unique, make it compelling and they must make sure they can run a service that has value for end users,” he said.
“If they fail to deliver they lose their investment... There is no loss to the government or the taxpayer.”
Fadhlullah Suhaimi revealed that Tricubes was chosen as it was the only listed company out of the five that pitched for the project. He explained that listed companies were preferable as the public would be free to scrutinise their finances.
He said Bursa Malaysia had assured Pemandu that the ACE-listed company’s Guidance Note 3 (GN3) status was an “accounting issue”, adding that the entry point project (EPP) evaluation team had determined that Tricubes’ business model was “sustainable”.
Loss-making Tricubes is at risk of being delisted after its weak financial standing triggered Bursa Malaysia Securities’ GN3 in October last year.
Fadhlullah Suhaimi also admitted he was “surprised” by the intense public reaction to the 1 Malaysia e-mail project but said it was good there was such strong interest in an EPP.
“If Tricubes can put it out by July (as planned)... they will have good brand equity,” he joked.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has said that the project will have a gross national income (GNI) impact of RM39 million up to 2015 and will allow direct and secure communications between Malaysian citizens and the government.
But critics say the government should focus on infrastructure project such as providing clean water or broadband across the country rather than working on a free email service which is already available through Hotmail, Yahoo! and Google Inc.
Tricubes has said it is collaborating with Hotmail service owner Microsoft Corp for the project but no provided no details.
Malaysians already enjoy online services such as MyEG and utilise banking portals to pay for a variety of utilities and services without the usage of email accounts.