Chong: Don’t reinvent the wheel to improve rural Internet services

Chong Chieng Jen

KUCHING, July 20: Sarawak DAP calls on Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg to cooperate with existing telco companies in order to provide mobile Internet services in rural areas in order to save cost and time.

Sarawak Democratic Action Party (DAP) chairman Chong Chieng Jen in a statement yesterday, opined that for the state government to set up, own and run a mobile Internet services provider to serve the rural sector will take at least two years to implement and the costs will run into millions. He added that all these steps only opens up the opportunities for cronyism, corruption and kick-backs in the process.

“In fact, to provide Internet services for the rural community, there are other ways which are much more cost effective than owning and operating a mobile Internet service provider company, such as to negotiate with the existing telco companies for Internet coverage for all the targeted rural areas with the proposal that the state government will absorb all the losses incurred by these companies due to the lack of economy of scale in these areas and even with some marginal profits for the telco companies,” Chong suggested.

He also proposed the Sarawak government direct Sacofa Sdn Bhd to stop charging high rental on these telco companies for the installation of signal transmitters on Sacofa’s telco towers.

According to Chong, taking these steps will only incur less than 10 per cent of the earlier estimated costs and it can be implemented immediately.

He likened the Chief Minister’s proposal for the state to own a mobile Internet services provider company so as to provide Internet services in rural areas to the idea of buying and raising a calf just to get a cup of milk, instead of going to a convenience store or supermarket to buy a packet of milk.

“Just because we want to drink a cup of milk, we buy a calf, feed it and let it grow and then we milk it to drink its milk. It is just similar to the Chief Minister’s suggestion that just because we want to provide Internet services to the rural area, we set up a full-blown mobile Internet service provider company. It will take time and so much more cost.

“If you want to drink a cup of milk, why not just go into a supermarket and select the type of milk you want and just pay for it?” he added.

Similarly, Chong pointed out, why not approach and negotiate with existing few telco companies and subsidise their operations in rural areas, or give them government incentives and business advantages if they take up the venture to provide Internet services to the rural folk.

“There are sufficient telco companies in the market to provide the necessary competition so that the state will get the best deal possible.

“DAP Sarawak calls on the Chief Minister to abandon the idea and take up our suggestion so that hundreds of millions of Sarawakians’ money will not be wasted and the rural people can enjoy Internet services without any more delay,” he added. — DayakDaily