When Communications and Multimedia Minister Tan Sri Annuar Musa shared photos on his Twitter account of a cheap-looking device as a part of the update for the soon to be open PerantiSiswa programme, everyone piled on.
Some made fun of it, and others used it for political leverage, both looking for clout.
As a response, Annuar stated that the PerantiSiswa device is still in the open tender process, a little more than a week before applications for the programme are open to the public on 15 April.
But let’s take a step back and briefly look at where it all started to understand how we got here.
The PerantiSiswa programme was a part of Budget 2022 which was announced on 29 Oct 2021.
The government will spend RM450 million to give students in B40 (low income/bottom 40%) families a tablet.
The programme, touted by the government, will benefit 600,000 institutes of higher learning students.
Divide the money by the number of students and you’ll get RM750, the estimated price of each tablet.
Finance Minister, Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Abdul Aziz in a video on his Facebook account rounded up the number to RM800.
In early March, Annuar announced that applications for the free PerantiSiswa tablet will open in mid-April and the tablet will be delivered in June.
Later in the same month, he detailed the specification for the tablet in the PerantiSiswa Programme.
The minimum requirements are as follows:
- 10.1in display.
- 4GB of RAM.
- Includes Keyboard.
- Includes Stylus.
That is a lot to ask for from a tablet that costs only RM750.
On 3 April, Annuar posted an updated status of the PrantiSiswa programme. The Twitter post includes three photos of a device with the caption “foto hiasan” or “for illustration purposes only”.
The photo was meant to show that the Ministry of Communications and Multimedia and Ministry of finance are doing their job.
Where we are now
The post resulted in speculation and it soon transformed into ridicule, a common currency for clout.
There are even politicians who were quiet about the programme since it was announced last year, suddenly making comments and asking questions when the story got traction.
The truth is, except for the official announcements made by the government so far, everything else about the tablet in the PerantiSiswa programme is speculation.
What we are certain of is the amount of money the government is spending, when the application period opens, when the tablet is expected to be delivered, what are its minimum requirements, and that it is currently still in an open tender.
Perhaps it is time that the government shared more information about the programme and keep the process open for all to see to avoid more speculation.