Rude shock for nine-year-old as subsidised phone catches fire
Kow Gah Chie
Published 16 Jun 2021, 9:21 am
A nine-year-old boy had a rude shock when a subsidised mobile phone provided under the Jaringan Prihatin programme caught fire during an online class on Monday.
The boy’s aunt Suryani Abd Ghani took to Facebook to vent her frustration.
“Luckily we were at home, otherwise the house might have burnt down,” she said.
Suryani, when contacted, said she witnessed the incident at their Gombak home.
I was in front of him. I was shaken. It happened around 9.30am during the home-based teaching and learning (PDPR).
“The boy turned pale. It had never happened like this when I used mobile phones. Luckily, we were unhurt,” she told Malaysiakini.
School lessons resumed this week but are being done remotely under what the government dubbed as “PDPR” due to the “total lockdown” to combat the Covid-19 pandemic.
Internet access has become increasingly crucial during the pandemic and low-income communities have been impacted the most, as some cannot afford mobile devices or data plans.
To tackle this problem, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin had announced the RM3.5 billion Jaringan Prihatin programme targeted at 8.5 million low-income households that are also recipients of the Bantuan Prihatin Rakyat welfare payment.
Suryani, a kindergarten teacher, said her husband had helped their nephew to apply for a mobile device under the programme but opted not to top-up due to their financial situation.
“We applied for the smartphone for him because the laptop he was using was old and lagging,” she said.
However, Suryani said the new device was prone to overheating and the battery drained quickly.
“Even if it’s a free mobile device, don’t give something like this because it’s dangerous,” she said.
Suryani said the phone was not charging when it combusted.
A check on the internet found the smartphone is priced below RM200 if purchased under a bundle promotion with a data plan.
Syed Saddiq pans the govt on ‘low quality’ phones
The incident caught the attention of former youth and sports minister Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman who panned the government for allowing “low quality” phones to be distributed.
The device was similar to the ones distributed under a separate programme by the Perak government.
The programme sought to provide 20,000 smartphones to students for educational purposes.
It had courted controversy after Perak state executive councillor Ahmad Saidi Mohamad Daud, who is in charge of education, acknowledged that the performance of these devices was limited.
“If students complain the device is low or that the quality isn’t good, I believe they are using it to play games.
“The device’s performance will be affected if it is installed with heavy devices such as games,” Ahmad Saidi was quoted as saying by Harian Metro.
Instead, he said, they should make use of the pre-installed education applications.
Syed Saddiq said such logic was hurting the students.
Bagi telefon kualiti rendah sebab buruk sangka dengan pelajar kononnya mahu elak mereka main game.
Akhirnya, telefon rosak. Yang susah, pelajar.
Belanjalah lebih sedikit untuk pendidikan mereka. Kerajaan ada wang. Guna untuk pelajar. pic.twitter.com/jPVgSAvlcA— Syed Saddiq (@SyedSaddiq) June 15, 2021
“Think ill of students by providing them low-quality phones supposedly to prevent them to play games.
“In the end, the devices are damaged and the students suffer.
“Spend more on their education. The government has the money, use it for the students,” Syed Saddiq added.