Gerawat (sixth left), Dr Zaidi Razak (sixth right) and representatives from SMA, BNM, MCMC, EPU and Celcom-Digi during a group photo session after the meeting on Feb 10.

KUCHING, 11 February 2023 - The Sarawak Multimedia (SMA) has urged telecommunication service providers to work with the government to expedite the setting up of auto teller machines (ATMs) to provide convenience of banking servoces for the rural folks. 

SMA general manager Dr Zaidi Razak said that SMA together with the Malaysian Communication and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) are actively overseeing the construction of 36 new telecommunication towers in Mulu constituency. 

"I hope with the towers allocated for Bario and Mulu National Park area, the service providers can assist to allocate dedicated lines to ensure stability for the operation of the ATMs in order to ease both physical and digital banking in the areas," he said in a statement today.

He said this following a meeting with Mulu assemblyman Datuk Gerawat Gala yesterday (Feb 10).

On another note, Gerawat said that Bario and Mulu National Parks are known for their tourism attractions, and frequently visited by people from around the world including local tourists. 

However the lack of banking facilities especially ATMs for the tourists and locals in both places to have access to ready cash has always been a subject of complaint, he added. 

"Mulu is one of the biggest constituencies in the state and due to its remoteness and very difficult terrain, physical and digital accessibility has always been a big challenge. 

"The government through SMA, MCMC and Sarawak Digital Economy Corporation (SDEC) have been working hard to improve internet connectivity in Mulu constituency as well as the whole state," he said.

This is part of the government's effort to ensure digitak connectivity across the whole of Sarawak in pursuance of Sarawak Premier's policy on digital economy, he added. 

"However, we are still lacking in banking facilities. Despite the effort by Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) and RHB to introduce cashless banking in Bario October last year, which the community very much welcomed, there are a large number of people in the rural constituencies who are still dependent on physical cash which inlcudes tourists and local vendors. 

"Of course they can do online banking, but we also need to cater to that large sector of the local people in rural areas who are not used to digital banking. Therefore, we need to set up ATMs to provide convenience and basic banking services for the tourists, local vendors and community," said Gerawat. 

He added that with such facilities, it can help to drive ease of doing business resulting in economic growth for the locals. With the improved internet connectivity in Mulu National Park, Bario and Long Lama should be having ATMs as a transition to a cashless economy just like in the urban area. 

"It'snot pragmatic for anyone to expect our rural community to leapfrog straight to cashless transactions and economy. Some of them, especially the elderly do not even have any bank accounts," Gerawat said. 

Also present during the meeting were representatives from Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM), MCMC, Economic Planning Unit (EPU) and Celcom-Digi. 

Source: The Borneo Post