All ears: Johari (left) and Azizi during the launching ceremony of the SME BizFest in Kuching yesterday. — ZULAZHAR SHEBLEE / The Star
KUCHING: Housing and Tourism Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg has likened Sarawak’s Internet infrastructure to the Pan Borneo Highway — narrow, congested and inconsistent.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of Telekom Malaysia’s SME Bizfest here, Johari said although Sarawak had many talents, most could not flourish without modern infrastructure.
“We have a lot of talent but we also have specific weaknesses. Right now one of our major weaknesses is we have a lot of cars but the road is too small.
“The ICT highway is congested. Sarawakians can create solutions (like) apps, but if the highway is very small, it’s always going to be congested,” Johari said yesterday. On brain drain from Sarawak, he said: “There is a 28-year-old millionaire app maker from Padungan (in Kuching) but he is developing his business in Kuala Lumpur. Part of the reason is because broadband facilities (here) are limited.”
SME Bizfest is a nationwide expo by the telco, aimed at promoting highspeed Internet usage among small and medium enterprises.
UniFi, TM’s latest broadband package, was heavily promoted, despite the service not available to most Sarawakians.
“You cuba (try) lah, use YouTube. When I click on a video, I always get this ‘circle’ thing (which means the video is buffering). After a while, I get fed up. I close the video. We just don’t have the speed. I hope the telcos will make the ‘roads’ wider.”
Later at a press conference, the minister conceded the high cost needed to improve broadband infrastructure in Sarawak, saying: “But our population is growing and it is young. Productivity is high. If you build the infrastructure, I’m sure you’ll recoup the investment.”
TM’s SME executive vice-president Azizi A Hadi told reporters improvement would come in stages.
“At the moment we are also finalising the deal (to take over) Packet One Networks Sdn Bhd (P1), which is a wireless (Internet provider) company.
“We already have plans. It (P1) will allow us to improve broadband coverage in Sarawak,” said Azizi.