Minister: Internet connectivity for students being worked on, issue is access to devices

Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah speaks to the press after launching the 100-Days Report Card for his ministry in Putrajaya June 17, 2020. — Picture by Choo Choy May
Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah speaks to the press after launching the 100-Days Report Card for his ministry in Putrajaya June 17, 2020. — Picture by Choo Choy May

PUTRAJAYA, June 17 — Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah today sought to clarify the issues surrounding internet connectivity for students, after reports emerged of a Sabah student forced to stay overnight on a tree to do her exam.

In a press conference today, Saifuddin said that telecommunications companies have been proactive in providing the 1GB free data for people, however the issue that is unresolved is accessibility to devices for learning, which he said is beyond his ministry’s jurisdiction.

“Okay, there are few things. Number one, of course as I have said earlier, the telcos are working hard thru MCMC (Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission) to ensure there is connectivity, and to improve connectivity.

“Number two, I think they have also been very proactive in giving out the free 1GB internet. I know there are complaints about it not being enough and so on, but I think the telcos are doing the best that they can do.

“But there is issue number three, and this is really beyond us, and we have been discussing this with both the Education Minister and the Higher Education Ministry.

“In fact we had a meeting at MCMC about two weeks ago, all the players were there with representatives from the Education Minister and Higher Education Minister were also there, because the next issue is devices. So for the government as a whole, we are looking at two big issues; access and devices,” Saifuddin said in a press conference.

He was speaking to the press after launching the 100-Days Report Card of his ministry.

The Star yesterday reported of 18-year old Veveonah Mosibin who had posted a video of herself climbing up a hill, and making a bamboo hut to be used for studying.

However, the report said that the hut was destroyed following heavy rains.

The Star reported that in her second video, Veveonah shared how she chose to sleep on top of a langsat fruit tree in Kampung Sapatalang in Pitas, to prepare for her exams.

“Studying off campus as a result of Covid-19 and the movement control order, Internet access is not readily available,” the Pitas-born lass was reported saying.

In a statement later, MCMC said that a new telecommunication tower has been planned for construction, to be built in Kampung Bilangau Kecil, close to Kampung Sapatalang, which can be optimised to increase internet coverage in Kampung Sapatalang, after the construction is done.

“This telecommunications tower which is being built under the National Fiberisation and Connectivity Plan (NFCP), is expected to be ready in the second quarter of 2021,” MCMC said.

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