Authorities urged to intervene unauthorised broadband installation

Charles Nissom

KUCHING: The installation of broadband services in a number of schools in Baleh by a local opposition political party does not sit well with certain quarters on the government side.

It has so upset them that the Sarawak Multimedia Authority (SMA), State Education Department and the Education Ministry have been urged to intervene in the matter.

A political secretary to the Chief Minister, Charles Nissom, who pointed out that Parti Sarawak Bersatu (PSB) set up the facilities in eight schools, said the move would encroach upon SMA’s jurisdiction.

“They have crossed the line as they had ignored the regulations, and for what? To gain political mileage!” he said.

“They took advantage of the lack of internet facilities in the rural areas by getting into the schools. The problem is they are not allowed to do it without permission from the ministry and SMA,” he said in a statement on Saturday (Nov 28).

Charles said ConnectmeNow — the service installed by PSB in the schools — belongs to a commercial telecommunication provider which is a profit-making outfit.

“They have violated the regulations of the two crucial government agencies just to get political mileage. It looks good on the surface when actually it’s simply a business deal,” he said.

For comparison, he said even the setting up of school canteens need permission from the Education Ministry, and so this case shouldn’t be any different.

Charles expressed worry that the installation of the broadband services would burn holes in the pockets of school children and their families.

“Later, when the children can’t afford to pay for the service, the short-term political stunt could cause long-term financial problems for their families and might adversely affect the parent-teacher associations (PIBG).

“The state government via SMA is seriously tackling the internet connectivity issues seriously but the implementation has to be comprehensive, holistic and beneficial to all,” he said.

Charles said in the long run, whatever decision is taken should not be an additional burden to school children and their parents.

He urged PSB to stop this type of encroachment, arguing that the people will know that they are not genuinely benevolent.