PUTRAJAYA: Upgrading the internet network in rural areas will be among the major agendas of the new Minister of Rural Development Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid(pix).

To meet the agenda, Mahdzir said the Ministry of Rural Development (KPLB) would collaborate with the Ministry of Communications and Multimedia (KKMM) to implement effort to improve the internet network in rural locations which would be identified.

Towards this end, he would hold meetings with the Minister of Communications and Multimedia Tan Sri Annuar Musa soon to discuss the form of collaboration to be implemented by the two ministries.

“The effort to boost the internet network must be given priority. Prior to this at KPLB, we always talked about road, hall, electricity and water supply but now the requirement in the rural areas is internet.

“A simple example is the home-based learning and teaching (PdPR) which needs the internet and the young generations in the rural areas also want a faster internet network,” he said.

He was speaking to reporters after a ceremony to hand over the duty of the Minister of Rural Development here, today.

At the event, former KPLB minister Datuk Dr Abdul Latiff Ahmad, who is now a Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Special Functions) handed a handing over of duty note to Mahdzir.

Mahdzir, with 29 ministers and 37 deputy ministers, took their oath of office before Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri'ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah at Istana Negara on Monday.

Mahdzir, who is also Padang Terap MP said KPLB could offer information on rural areas requiring faster internet network.

“This collaboration will be made in phases. KPLB too can co-operate with Tenaga Nasional Bhd (TNB) for us to boost internet network because we know TNB has fibre optic,” he said.

Meanwhile, Mahdzir said KPLB allocated RM550,000 to repair 40 houses in Yan and Merbok in Kedah which were damaged by the mud flow tragedy from Gunung Jerai on August 18.

“Work to repair the damaged houses had started since last Sunday (August 29). KPLB is still assessing the damages for repair on houses belonging to other victims,” he said.

The water surge tragedy from Gunung Jerai killed six people and affected over 1,000 houses in Yan and Merbok.

Commenting on the announcement of Special Covid-19 Assistance (BKC) by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, Mahdzir said it mirrored the concern of the Prime Minister and government for the low income group and it was in line with the Malaysian Family Concept.

“The BKC payment showed that the government keeps its promise prior to this which was announced through the People’s Protection and Economy Recovery Package (Pemulih).

“It is hoped that the payment of the aid will be able to provide relief, and to a certain extent, ease the burden of expenses and cost of living of the recipients,” he said.

Ismail Sabri today announced that BKC would be paid in stages with the Phase One payment to be credited from September 6 and it was expected to be completed on September 10. -Bernama