Shafie Apdal: State govt money for laptops better spent on Covid-19 vaccines for Sabah kids

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Parti Warisan Sabah (Warisan) president Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal campaigning in Tempasuk, Kota Belud, Sabah, September 16, 2020. — Picture by Firdaus Latif
Parti Warisan Sabah (Warisan) president Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal campaigning in Tempasuk, Kota Belud, Sabah, September 16, 2020. — Picture by Firdaus Latif

KUALA LUMPUR, June 20 — Former Sabah chief minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal has criticised the actions of the state government in buying laptops for students as a waste.

Sinar Harian reported him as saying that the funds used to purchase the laptops should have been used to purchase Covid-19 vaccines for students and teachers instead, so that schools in Sabah can reopen.

“Purchase vaccines for teachers, lecturers, and all students, then reopen schools. That way there is no need to waste money purchasing laptops. We buy them for millions, yet we have never learned from our past mistakes.

“I still remember when Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein was education minister, and we spent RM700 million on computers, then checked to see which villages those computers were distributed to,” he said during a virtual discussion programme last night.

The Parti Warisan president said he was serving as rural and regional development minister at the time, and visited various locations in Sarawak, Sabah and the outlying islands.

There he asked the principals of schools why the computers were kept in storage and not used, only to be told they had no electricity to use the computers.

“Laptops cannot be used by students due to problems with internet connectivity, especially in the interiors of Sabah. Even if laptops were distributed in Kota Marudu and Pitas (in Kudat) there is no ‘line’, so where does the money go if it is not a waste?

“It would be better to use the money for vaccines, administer them to students, and order the reopening of schools. Once that is done, we need to follow all standard operating procedures by wearing face masks, washing hands, and other things as a preventive measure,” Shafie said.

The Semporna MP added that the reopening of schools would have a knock-on effect, especially economic ones.

“When schools reopen, there are many benefits. Children will ride buses, buy nasi lemak, and that way the economy is restored,” he said.

The state government is set to distribute 10,000 laptops to Form Five and Six students from impoverished families between July 19 and October 18, under the Bantuan Ihsan Komputer programme.

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