By Karen Bong
KUCHING, Feb 17: Muara Tuang assemblyman Datuk Idris Buang has slammed a suggestion by Parti Sarawak Bersatu (PSB) for Sarawak lawmakers to take a salary cut to fund the purchase of gadgets for poor school children as a “cheap publicity ploy to seek sheer attention”.
Idris viewed that such a salary cut for state assemblymen (Adun) and members of Parliament (MPs) would not do much to end the problem of poor students struggling to follow online or remote learning due to lack of device access.
“The issue is not just about gadget ownership but also of Internet connection and its affordability in which the Sarawak government is working hard to set up, improve and uplift the infrastructure in phases.
“The best thing to do is for the state and federal governments to improve on its income base and create a special scheme to provide (for) poor students in need of gadgets for study,” he emphasised in a statement today.
He was commenting on a news report in a local daily in which PSB Presidential Council member Datuk Seri Abang Aditajaya Abang Alwi suggested that every Adun and MP take three months’ salary cut to be used to purchase gadgets for poor school children to follow home-based teaching and learning (PdPR) sessions.
He pointed out that the children’s learning will be affected if they do not have the necessary gadgets to participate in PdPR.
Aware that ‘digital poverty’ issues need to be addressed so as to not hinder children’s learning, Idris, who is also Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) information chief, also suggested a proper crowd funding programme be established and monitored by the government as another way to assist the poor students.
“As an Adun, personally I am willing to chip in if there is such a campaign by any non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to get crowdfunding which is open to all to contribute.
“But I hope some government-friendly NGOs would make a move towards that and contribute back to society,” he said, when speaking of possible ways to get financially strong members of the private sector to contribute towards a national cause.
As tax credits could be granted for the purpose, Idris was optimistic that many in the private sector would be willing to contribute.
“GPS (Gabungan Parti Sarawak) Aduns and MPs would welcome such a move,” he emphasised.
Meanwhile, Abang Aditajaya highlighted that three months’ salary of 82 state assemblymen would amount to RM3.9 million in total, assuming RM48,000 from an assemblyman with a monthly salary of RM16,000.
With this amount, he said, they can help contribute Samsung tabs to 6,560 students or handphones to 13,000 students.
He thus called on the Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) government to be more sensitive to the plight of school children from poor families in urban and rural areas as it will be detrimental to children if they were left behind in their studies just because they could not afford gadgets or devices.
Abang Aditajaya also expressed disappointment in that there was no allocation set aside to provide such financial support for poor students in the Bantuan Khas Sarawakku Sayang (BKSS) 5.0 package announced recently. — DayakDaily