Some callers were cautioning us on the dangerous curve we were taking in this discourse. Regardless, we are not going to talk about wild rumours or try to uncover the many definitions of the term 'ambiguous', as cited by ISC. That is for the relevant parties to clarify among themselves.
We are also not to going to take any sides in this ongoing debate on what is right or what is wrong. We remain apolitical, in a discussion mired with elusive political landmines. Our role remains true to our readers and for them to make their own judgements as events progress. So don't shoot the messenger. Here are the facts.... since the tender process began…
August 16, 2010, 12noon: Deadline for tender pitch submissions, a compulsory review is held every three years. Out of the 111 tender forms distributed, 34 agencies submitted theirs and the account held by 11 agencies is poised to be whittled down to five agencies. Grouping the sectors into 5 markets: Southeast Asia, North and East Asia, South and West Asia, Europe, North America and Oceania. It is understood that of the RM600 million advertising and promotions budget North and East Asia (China & Japan), and South and West Asia would traditionally get the lion’s share. Leading industry observers say about one-third of Tourism Malaysia’s annual media budget is booked directly with the media owners by Tourism Malaysia themselves.
ISC continue to handle Europe, Pakar Media North America, M&C Saatchi Oceania, Smascom North Asia, Wellads East Asia, SEN Media South Asia and the Middle East, and Astana Southeast Asia. Conceptcom hold the domestic tourism tender and M&C Saatchi the special events and projects part. All their contracts expire on December 31, 2010.
August 16, 2010, Jalan Duta Courts, 3pm: Tourism Malaysia Director-General Datuk Mirza Mohammad Taiyab Beg and Tender Board Chairman plus two former top officials of the Ministry subsidiary Pempena charged with committing criminal breach of trust totalling RM888,000. He and former Pempena COO Mohammad Rosly Md Selamat claim trial. Datuk Mirza was previously reinstated as D-G in 29 July 2009, after he was acquitted by the Sessions Court on a charge of accepting dental implant treatment worth RM13,860 in 2005 after the person who instructed the dentist not to collect payment from Mirza owned up.
August 16, 2010: Datuk Mirza receives official suspension notice from his job as D-G. His court hearing dates are confirmed for May 16, 17, 18, 2011.
August 19, 2010: Tourism Malaysia Deputy Director-General (Planning) Azizan Noordin appointed acting Director-General of Tourism Malaysia.
January 1, 2011: Official announcement has yet to be made on the selected agencies to handle the Tourism Malaysia business commencing 2011. Tourism Malaysia usually decides on a short-list of agencies three months prior. And these agencies are then asked to make presentations on their concepts and estimated costs. And all of this was done within the stipulated time frame of three to four months, with the winners announced and their contracts then negotiated and finalized before the end of the last contract period, usually with an over-lapping two to three months to allow for prudent and cost-conscious media negotiations as well as advertising production time.
January 26, 2011: Integrated Strategic Communications (ISC), one of the tenderers for the account, withdraws from the ongoing pitch after serving the account since 1999. Their cited their reasons for withdrawing over concerns about the ambiguity of the tender process. They had not received any communication on tender process timelines as the tender states the contract is supposed to commence January 1, 2011. They also said the agency cannot realistically accommodate Tourism Malaysia requirements, which they committed six months ago, due to ISC’s new business wins and increased workload this year.
January 31, 2011: The Sun newspaper front-pages the 'ISC pullout' story reporting that a Tourism Ministry source said, "We will be interested to talk to ISC over the allegations."
February 2, 2011: Impact Challenger and NEWS Ad contact ADOI, in response to readers' comments on our website, to clarify that they did not make any submission in the ongoing advertising tender process for the Tourism Malaysia business. Each tendering company is required to have a minimum paid-up capital of RM1 million in the new tender.
February 3, 2011: The Star reports that Tourism Malaysia regrets ISC, which was behind the successful 'Malaysia Truly Asia' drive for 12 years, has withdrawn from the lucrative campaign. Dato’ Haji Azizan Noordin, acting Director-General, Tourism Malaysia said, “The tender process is done in strict compliance with the financial and procurement guidelines and regulations prescribed by the Government, with the participation of the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Tourism and Tourism Malaysia which leaves no room for ambiguity. There are steps to the process involving the finance committee, the technical committee and the tender committee.”
February 3, 2011: TBWA-ISC (an ISC Group company) wins a pitch to handle leading telco DiGi's multi-million ringgit Youth portfolio business.
February 6, 2011: Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen says her Ministry is targeting an increase of 25 million tourists visiting the country this year, compared with 24 million last year, with a projected tourism revenue of RM60 billion. She tells Bernama the ministry was targeting to woo more tourists from Russia, India, China, Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Belgium, Holland and the Middle East.
February 7, 2011, 12.50pm: ADOI speaks to Dato’ Haji Azizan Noordin, acting Director-General of Tourism Malaysia. He said he was busy and would call back.