Veveonah case not isolated, senator says

Many villages in Sabah face issues of poor Internet connection which has made virtual learning nearly impossible

pic by BERNAMA

RURAL Internet issues should be dealt with seriously by the federal government as there are many more students like Veveonah Mosibin in Sabah, who have no direct access to high-speed Internet networks needed for learning.

Senator Adrian Lasimbang (picture) said the recent statements made by Deputy Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Zahidi Zainul Abidin and Deputy Finance Minister I Datuk Abdul Rahim Bakri were an “insult” to the people of Sabah and showed their ignorance over real connectivity difficulties faced by Sabahans in rural areas.

Adrian said many villages in Sabah face issues of poor Internet connection which has made virtual learning nearly impossible, especially during the Movement Control Order (MCO) period.

“I urge the deputy ministers, both Zahidi and Abdul Rahim, not to sweep the issue under the carpet and take seriously the need to address Internet connectivity issues in many parts of Sabah. I fully support Veveonah because this is a mere reflection of a larger problem. There are many more ‘Veveonahs’ in Sabah,” he told reporters in the Parliament yesterday.

Sabah education director Dr Mistrine Radin last month said about 52% of students in the state did not have access to the Internet and smartphones, computers or mobile gadgets that were needed to participate in learning and facilitating sessions scheduled by their teachers.

In Sarawak, State Education Minister Datuk Seri Michael Manyin Jawong in June said over 50% of students in the state had no Internet access or electronic devices to follow online learning at home during the MCO phase.

Senator Nga Hock Cheh said Zahidi should have the humility to apologise as his statements had caused the 19-year-old Veveonah to be a victim of cyberbullying.

Meanwhile, Senator Alan Ling Sie Kiong, who on Monday submitted a motion to Dewan Negara Speaker Tan Sri Rais Yatim to refer Zahidi to the Committee of Privileges for misleading the Senate with his false claim on Veveonah, said it will be put in the meeting order for Sept 21.

This is to fulfil Standing Orders 27(3) which requires a notice of not less than 14 days before a motion can be moved in the house.

Zahidi, in a Facebook posting on Sept 3, apologised for the mistake and said he would make a correction in the Dewan Negara on Monday. He had instead named Abdul Rahim and a senior lecturer at Universiti Malaysia Sabah as sources for the false information he received.

Ling said Zahidi’s failure to keep his promise has put his credibility and integrity as a deputy minister in question. “It has been more than a week since he made the statement and until today, he has not approached the university to verify the matter,” Ling said.