By Doreenn Leong
Home Minister Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin recently admitted there are weaknesses in the current immigration system, which is prone to frequent breakdowns and has called several major companies to tender for a better system for the Immigration Department.
He said the ministry had “called several major companies to tender for an improved system for the department. As it is a huge system, it will take some time to show results.”
How long more does the ministry need to award the contract? It has been close to two years since the intention to implement a new system was announced.
Granted that the Covid-19 pandemic and Movement Control Order could have resulted in further delay in deciding on the winner. But given the problems in the existing system, it is crucial to replace it with a more reliable one.
As it is, the Auditor-General’s Report 2018 Series 3 which was tabled in Parliament recently, found 214,398 foreigners did not have a record of exiting Malaysia since April 15 when the MyIMMs system recorded 4,489 incidents of system down from 2016 to 2018.
Surely, these incidents are not new and pose a great risk to the country’s security. The National Integrated Immigration System (NIIS) appears to be the answer to the scrapped Sistem Kawalan Imigresen Nasional (SKIN) contract, which was awarded to Prestariang Bhd in 2017 for a 15-year concession worth RM3.5 bil.
In mid-2018, the contract was cancelled by the Home Ministry, then under current Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, as it was said to be too expensive.
Now that the country is run by a different coalition government, we can only hope there is no political inference or lobbying for the lucrative contract.
Already there is speculation on who the likely winners of the RM1.5 bil NIIS contract will be. In December last year, this writer reported that the frontrunners include unlisted company S5 Systems Sdn Bhd, which could be the dark horse in the race.
S5 Systems is a global integrated security solutions provider, delivering solutions to governments and enterprises.
It was also believed that the government was re-tendering the NIIS project due to some changes in the specification.
The revised tender for the NIIS closed on March 4 and many expected the winner to be announced in May or June.
Earlier, the request for proposal had closed on Aug 16, 2019 and saw some 30 bidders for the project.
Since then, there were numerous reports on S5 Systems as the potential winner of the NIIS contract. This appeared to be fortified with the entry of MyEG Services Bhd, which many had identified the company as Umno-linked.
However, last August, MyEG had denied links to Umno saying that neither Umno nor its proxies have a substantial stake in the company, and such claims were “entirely erroneous, speculative and baseless”.
Recently, on June 10, MyEG announced that its wholly-owned subsidiary My EG Capital Sdn Bhd is buying a 10% stake in S5 Holdings Inc for RM90 mil. S5 Holdings owns S5 Systems.
Apart from S5, there are reportedly many other frontrunners for the NIIS contract. They include HeiTech Padu Bhd, Scicom (MSC) Bhd, Iris Corp Bhd and Datasonic Group Bhd.
Some of these counters have been under the spotlight as news of the NIIS contract continues to make headlines. It could be anyone’s game right now and investors are speculating. .
As such, the government needs to be transparent and explain the protracted delay. Remember, this is a tender process.
Understandably, it may take time to select the right company or companies. But the delay has to be explained to avoid speculation of political interference.