MIRI (Bernama) – The government is to upgrade the telecommunications system at the Patrick Libau Longhouse to help its 650 residents generate an income, especially in the tourism sector.
Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek said yesterday preference was given to ensure that longhouse residents were able to surf the Internet through satellite technology by year-end.
“I give the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) three months to do so,” he said after launching the ‘Titik Sentuhan’ (Touch Point) programme organised by the Information Department here.
Shabery said the MCMC had also been directed to outline a strategy to upgrade the quality of mobile phone coverage in the area.
“I checked my own mobile phone and found coverage by the three telecommunications companies, Celcom, Maxis and Digi, to be unreliable,” he added.
Shabery said the telecommunications issue at the longhouse needed to be resolved soon as the number of tourists participating in the homestay programme was increasing as the longhouse was close to the Niah Caves National Park which would be nominated as a Unesco World Heritage Site.
“They need the Internet and telephone for education and tourism promotion. I have asked the longhouse chief, Patrick Libau Ak Ignatius Sulla, to call or send a short messaging service (SMS) if the problem has yet to be resolved,” he said.
At the same event, Shabery also contributed RM10,000 to the longhouse to help fund various programmes carried out by the 32-door dwelling situated in an oil palm plantation.
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.