‘RM1 bln fund for upgrading of rural school infrastructure’

Abang Johari (third left) looking at a tablet as he launches SKDP while (from left) Gerawat, Yasmin, Fatimah, Wong, Harden and Ministry of Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Development permanent secretary Dr Saadiah Abdul Samat look on. — Photo by Chimon Upon

KUCHING: The state government will allocate RM1 billion for upgrading rural school infrastructure in the state.

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said this initiative was conveyed to Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who agreed to the move, during a meeting in Sibu on Wednesday night.

“Last night (Wednesday) during our meeting, we have agreed that if the federal government does not have sufficient funds, the state government will kick start this initiative through our funds.

“We want to build (upgrade) all rural schools with infrastructure that includes internet with the allocation of RM1 billion,” he said when officiating the Sarawak Kenyalang Digital Programme (SKDP) at Penview Convention Centre (PCC) here yesterday.

However, he pointed out that though the state government would be forking out the initial funds through its Development Bank of Sarawak (DBOS), it came with a condition.

“The federal government must pay back because that is their responsibility in terms of education. But we will build (upgrade) our schools first using our money since we have DBOS.

“Our bank will finance and the federal government will pay back to our bank plus interest,” he quipped.

Abang Johari also spoke on his aspirations concerning digital economy in the state, saying that another Tegas Digital Innovation Hub (TDIH) would be established in Sarikei in addition to the one at iCom Square here which he had just launched last month.

“This Sept 17, I will establish another TDIH in Sarikei which will serve as an incubator for budding entrepreneurs to start up their business and this hub will be connected to the Digital Village which will be developed in Samajaya here,” he disclosed, adding that the Digital Village, which has been allocated

RM30 million, will serve as an incubator and is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2020.

He said the innovation hub was crucial in view of the state government’s efforts to hone the talents of rural youths in information technology as well as to support the entrepreneurship sector and product innovators throughout the state.

“Much like the TDIH here, the innovation hub in Sarikei will come equipped with a cafe, discussion room, conference room, lounge as well as Internet facilities that can be used by the public particularly young entrepreneurs to enable them to interact and at the same time hone their talent in digital economy.”

On another matter, Abang Johari also pointed out that he would be tabling a Bill on Sarawak Multimedia Authority (SMA) at the State Legislative Assembly (DUN) sitting this November.

“We must have a law to regulate our digital economy and that is why I will be tabling this Bill to regulate all digital aspects of our economy including licences and so on,” he explained.

On SKDP, he said the programme serves as a great platform for micro-entrepreneurs in Sarawak to venture into digital economy and commended the Ministry of Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Development for organising the event.

Also present were Abang Johari’s wife Datin Patinggi Dato Juma’ani Tuanku Bujang; International Trade and

E-Commerce Minister Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh; Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Development Minister Dato Sri Fatimah Abdullah; Assistant Minister of Community Wellbeing Datuk Francis Harden Hollis, Deputy DUN Speaker Dato Gerawat Gala and Multimedia Development Corporation (MDeC) chief executive officer Datuk Yasmin Mahmood.

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