MIRI: Telecommunications service at Rumah Patrick Libau, a longhouse at Sungai Tangap, Niah, will be upgraded within three months to allow its 650 residents generate additional income through tourism.
Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek said the system using satellite technology (Very Small Aperture Terminal –VSAT) would ensure that the longhouse folk would be able to surf the Internet by year-end.
“I am giving the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) three months to do this.
“They (villagers) need the Internet and telephone for education and tourism promotion.
I have asked the longhouse chief (TR) Patrick Libau Ignatius Sulla, to send a short messaging service (SMS) if the problem has yet to be resolved,” he said after launching the ‘Titik Sentuhan’ (Touch Point) programme organised by the Information Department here.
Ahmad Shabery said the MCMC had also been directed to outline a strategy to upgrade the mobile phone coverage in the area, adding that he had personally found that the coverage by three telecommunications companies, Celcom, Maxis and DiGi was unreliable.
He said such problem had to be resolved soonest as the number of tourists participating in the homestay
programme was increasing due to the proximity of the longhouse to Niah Caves National Park, a Unesco World Heritage Site.
Earlier, in his speech, Libau said 10,000 domestic and foreign tourists had participated in the homestay programme at the longhouse from January to August this year.
At the same event, Ahmad Shabery gave RM10,000 to the 32-door longhouse to carry out their various programmes.
He also handed over goodies under the Touch Point programme to 10 less fortunate people including single mothers and orphans in the longhouse.
Earlier, the minister and his entourage visited Niah Caves located just about 1km from the longhouse.
The ministry’s secretary-general Datuk Seri Abdul Rahim Mohamad Radzi, Broadcast Department director-general Datuk Norhyati Ismail, Special Affairs Department director-general
Datuk Fuad Tan Sri Hassan and Bernama deputy editor-in-chief Datuk Zakaria Abdul Wahab were among those in the entourage.