Include Sarawak too in digitalisation plan

Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah

KUCHING: The federal government was told to include Sarawak in its RM56 billion plan to improve internet connectivity nationwide.

Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said this will bring Sarawak as well as fellow East Malaysian state Sabah to the same level as Malaya.

“If the RM56 billion is used only to improve the infrastructure in Malaya for them to get faster and wider internet connectivity and not Sabah and Sarawak, the Borneo states will forever be left behind.

“My hope is that this plan to develop and improve internet infrastructure will have Sarawak in mind too,” he said when contacted today (Feb 20).

Abdul Karim noted that internet connectivity in Malaya is ahead by a margin compared to Sabah and Sarawak. He said, similarly, Sarawak has a lot to catch up in terms of road infrastructure.

“Improvements to road connectivity in Sarawak through the Pan Borneo Highway project only came to light after 50 years in Malaysia.

“Our coastal highway project only managed to take off when Sarawak decided to fund the project on its own despite infrastructure being the responsibility of the federal government,” he said.

On Friday, Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said a total of RM56 billion will be spent on infrastructure for faster and wider internet connectivity under a 10-year plan aimed at developing the country’s digital economy.

He said nearly half of the budget will go into the National Digital Connectivity (Jendela) programme, a five-year plan to expand fixed fibre optic internet coverage to nine million premises by 2025 from 7.5 million in 2022.

Muhyiddin said private telecommunication companies will invest over a billion ringgit more to connect Jendela to undersea cables by 2023, and RM15 billion more into expanding 5G connectivity nationwide.

A government special purpose vehicle will oversee the 5G infrastructure rollout, with the cost to be borne by both the public and private sector.