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He also refuted assertions that carving out the digital portion from his previous ministry was a reflection of his performance, and dismissed claims that he intends to keep hold of MCMC because of the agency’s power in having the final say on the allegedly lucrative spectrum allocation.

KUALA LUMPUR (Dec 18): While the home of the Digital Nasional Bhd (DNB) — the special purpose entity set up by the government to drive the development of 5G infrastructure in Malaysia — is yet to be decided with the splitting up of the former Ministry of Communications and Digital into two, Fahmi Fadzil said the only thing digital about DNB is its name.

“If you were to ask me, Digital Nasional Bhd, probably the only thing that's digital about it is the name. It is actually an infra-co — an infrastructure company,” he told reporters here when asked whether the government has decided whether DNB comes under him or Gobind Singh Deo.

Fahmi was formerly overseeing both the communications and digital portfolio under the Ministry of Communications and Digital, prior to the Dec 12 Cabinet reshuffle last week that saw the ministry being split into two.

Fahmi now handles only the communications part of the portfolio as the new communications minister, while Gobind has been tasked to helm the Digital Ministry.

But what exactly falls under whose purview has yet to be fully decided, following the announcement of the Cabinet rejig by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

Fahmi told reporters following a post-Cabinet meeting with the new line-up last week that the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), which is in charge of the country’s network resources — spectrum allocation, comes under his ministry, while DNB remained undecided.

“We have not yet finalised (on DNB), this is still under discussion. But as you know, MCMC, as an example, is a lot more about infrastructure, about spectrum, also about modes of communication. Not necessarily about digital content, not so much about that,” he said on Monday (Dec 18) after launching a new television service by Ansat Broadcast Sdn Bhd.

“I think with regards to DNB, we have not finalised it yet. But at least for me, my argument is that it's an infrastructure company,” he added.

Fahmi further said telecommunication services are more a mode of communication rather than a digital enabler through network deployment.

“[MCMC] is not necessarily digital per se, in that sense. One of the raison d'être of the formation of the Digital Ministry, of course, is to have increased focus on the digital economy. So, I think to that end, that's why MDEC was moved there, naturally, MyNIC Bhd.

“So, the [Digital Ministry’s] focus will be really on that ecosystem. On our side, we are still looking at it, because [MCMC] also involves telephony, for example, so we will still look into these aspects,” he said.

Other agencies that will remain under the Communications Ministry are: Bernama, Institute of Broadcasting and Information Tun Abdul Razak (IPPTAR), the Information Department (JaPen), the Broadcasting Department including RTM, National Film Development Corp (Finas), and MyCreative Ventures. The Community Communications Department (J-KOM) has also been moved from the Prime Minister’s Department to the Communications Ministry.

Meanwhile, an agency transferred to the Digital Ministry, besides MDEC and MyNIC, was the Department of Personal Data Protection, according to Fahmi.

Fahmi on Monday also assured that the government has no intention of carving the telecommunications regulatory power out of MCMC at this juncture. “At this point, [MCMC] remains as it is."

He also refuted assertions that carving out the digital portion from his previous ministry was a reflection of his performance, and dismissed claims that he intends to keep hold of MCMC because of the agency’s power in having the final say on the allegedly lucrative spectrum allocation.

“Those who say that ‘You know, it is carved out because Fahmi failed’, must be wrong. Perhaps you should talk to my detractors and try to convince them,” he told reporters.

“But having said that, [it is] because a lot of the initiatives (under MCMC) are about communication, enabling [and] providing access to communication across many different communities, and making sure these communities are not left behind.

“So, they (the initiatives) may not necessarily be digital, per se. For example, radio is still broadcasting you know, whether it's shortwave, mediumwave, FM (frequency modulation). So that's not digital per se, that format, right? So that's why MCMC remains with this ministry,” he added.

Edited ByTan Choe Choe
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