KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 29 — Former deputy education minister Teo Nie Ching has demanded an explanation from the government over the delay in distributing some 150,000 laptops to B40 students following the assurance given in Parliament last November.
The Kulai MP said until September 20 this year, a total of 112,326 laptops have been distributed to students in this lower income group, questioning when the remaining 38,000-odd laptops will be given out.
“We are not talking about 1.5 million laptops, not about half a million laptops, but we are only asking for 150,000 laptops, but after more than 300 days, the government has collapsed and changed, and yet this promise is yet to be honoured,” she said during when debating the 12th Malaysian Plan (12MP) in Parliament today.
She pointed out and also questioned the government when it previously claimed the delay in delivering the devices was due to funds pending from the Khazanah foundation needed to procure the laptops, asking why it was relying on funds from government-linked companies.
“Why are we depending on contributions from these GLCs? Does the government not have enough funds to give laptops to B40 students?
“When it wants to upgrade the official residence of the prime minister, RM35 million, no problem, it is just approved immediately, but when we want to send laptops to our students, we have to wait, wait and wait,” she said.
Teo also accused the government of passing the buck when questioned over the delay, saying neither the Finance Ministry (MoF) nor the Education Ministry (MoE) has come out to clarify the situation.
She asserted that going by past responses from the MoF and MoE, the Cabinet seems to be better at shunting responsibility instead of addressing it head on.
“Can’t someone from such a huge Cabinet be appointed to answer this matter in this House who needs to be responsible for this long, overdue delay?
“I feel like this Cabinet is very efficient at kicking a ball to pass the buck around. I think if the ministers form a football team, we can be world champions,” she quipped.
Additionally, Teo stressed how the 150,000 laptops already promised remains insufficient to supply all students with suitable digital devices to take part in hybrid learning lessons.
“And it was the MOE themselves who said 37 per cent of students do not have suitable devices.
“Thirty-seven per cent means 1.7 million students still do not have a suitable digital device,” she said.
Earlier this month, Finance Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz had said that some 130,000 from the promised 150,000 devices were already handed out, saying it plans to complete the disbursement of the laptops by the end of September.