The Association of Accredited Advertising Agents Malaysia (4As Malaysia) has responded to Telekom Malaysia's (TM) recent statement about its procurement policy. The telco recently said that it will in the immediate term retain its tender requirements, which aligns with standard industry practices in tender processing.
This came after it was called out by the 4As for requiring agencies to pay a non-refundable tender document fee of up to RM5,000 and a refundable tender deposit of up to RM20,000 per tender is part of its requirement. CEO Khairudin Rahim also called the tender document fee and tender deposit "unjustifiable". In a new follow-up statement, the 4As said that its request for the removal of the two tender conditions is an appeal made on behalf of all advertising agencies, and not just 4As agencies as claimed by TM. The telco had previously said in its statement that these tender requirements extend to all agencies, and not only those registered under 4As.
"Secondly, TM’s response that payment of the tender document fee is not a requirement for agencies to attend TM’s tender briefings is inaccurate," Khairudin said, adding:
Participating agencies have confirmed that a tender document fee is indeed required for the tender briefing where at this briefing, TM will check if payment has been made.
He added that this is prior to each agency being allowed to receive the tender document via email after the meeting. According to Khairudin, all agencies that choose to submit the completed tender documents must then remit a refundable tender deposit as part of phase one submission in order to be eligible for the shortlisting process.
Previously, TM told A+M that the tender fee and tender deposit were not requirements for agencies to attend its tender briefings, and agencies are also not required to purchase tender documents ahead of briefings. "In compliance with TM’s procurement policies, agencies are only requested to sign non-disclosure agreements and non-solicitation undertakings when attending TM’s tender briefings," the telco explained.
"Thirdly, TM in its response, has regrettably chosen not to provide any counter arguments to rebut the 4As opinion that the two tender conditions have no correlation to whether an interested agency is of 'acceptable standards'. We, therefore, believe that these two tender requirements are superfluous given that TM already has in place a meticulous internal screening process led by their own eminently qualified and experienced marketers entrusted to shortlist agencies of 'acceptable standards," Khairudin said.
He added that without any counter-arguments being offered, 4As opinion remains and it is making its fourth appeal to TM for the elimination of the two unreasonable conditions for all TM tenders involving all advertising agencies now and in the future.
TM "categorically clarifies its views" regarding 4As' latest statement
TM is currently conducting three separate tenders for the appointment of panel agencies for creative partner, digital partner, and below-the-line partner. When approached for a response to 4As' latest statement, TM told A+M that as a company that serves to create long-term value for all parties, TM will consider 4As Malaysia’s feedback as a measure to continually improve.
The telco added that it is committed to ensuring fair and equal opportunities in all its business undertakings, and would like to categorically clarify its views on the standards and principles that govern its procurement processes.
"By virtue of ensuring the quality and commitment in all our customer experience and brand undertakings, these standards contribute to a vibrant, resourceful, and professional partner ecosystem. As such, our position below aims to raise the level of understanding and lay to rest any protracted misgiving on the part of 4As Malaysia to our current efforts in appointing a panel of creative agencies as partners," the telco added.
It explained that governed by the TM Procurement Policy, the TM procurement process undergoes continuous and rigorous review in consultation with the TM Board Tender Committee as part of it process and policy improvement.
Also, TM said all tender initiatives it undertakes adheres to its standard guidance, which provides a set of procedures to manage sourcing activities within TM and its subsidiaries, ensuring the telco collaborates with agencies that reflect the highest level of capacity and professionalism.
Any open tender exercise will be advertised via TM’s corporate website and/or public communication channels with instructions clearly reflected in the advertisement for ease of reference by potential participants.
TM to retain tender requirements in immediate term despite being called out by 4As
4As calls out TM for 'unjustifiable' tender document fee and deposit