KUCHING, Sept 22: A sudden power outage in Selangau which disrupted Internet connectivity allegedly caused four students from SK Ulu Sungai Arip to be eliminated from the State-Level Inter-School Debating Competition 2022 recently.
Referring to a news report by the Borneo Network social media portal, the Malaysian United Democratic Alliance (Muda) Sarawak State Executive Committee in a statement said the incident was most regrettable.
“The Sarawak government claimed that RM2.37 billion had been spent to upgrade rural electricity supply through the Rural Power Supply Scheme (RPSS) but power failures still occurred.
“This is dreadful when it affects the learning and school activities of students in rural areas,” Muda Sarawak said.
According to Borneo Network’s report, the SK Ulu Sungai Arip debating team and their teacher had trained for months in preparation for the competition. But on that unfortunate competition day, there was a sudden power blackout which also caused the Internet connection to go out just when it was the turn of the team to present their debate.
Following the power cut, their guiding teachers and the students rushed to pack their laptops and other materials and drove out in hope to find Internet connectivity along the Sibu-Selangau main road. But they were met with disappointment as they could not even contact the organiser.
Losing the opportunity to compete was a bitter pill to swallow for the four young students who could not help but cry their hearts out, according to the report.
While various projects have been launched by the federal and Sarawak governments long ago to increase Internet access in Sarawak, Muda Sarawak said that the people of Sarawak however still do not get reliable Internet connectivity to this day.
“We have already been shocked by stories like UPSI students in Pakan having to go into the jungle to get better Internet connection and the same is still happening today with students of SK Ulu Arip.
“A lot of people’s money has been spent but the result is still not there and Internet access in rural areas remains poor,” it added.
Muda Sarawak noted that Minister of Communications and Multimedia Tan Sri Annuar Musa had recently announced that the federal government is committed to achieving comprehensive Internet access throughout Sarawak by 2024 through the National Digital Network Plan (Jendela) Phase 2 project.
Demanding accountability and transparency, Muda Sarawak has urged both the Sarawak and federal governments to provide a detailed report for every last penny spent in every mega project that has been implemented.
“We do not want any malpractice like the solar hybrid project for rural schools in Sarawak to happen again.
“The government should present the details of projects such as RPSS and Jendela to the people and let the people evaluate the effectiveness of the projects,” it added. — DayakDaily