TechCentral: Come Jan 1 youths between the ages of 21 and 30 can apply for a RM200 rebate to purchase smartphones that cost below RM500.
Handled by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (SKMM), the Youth Communication
Package will be offered on a first-come-first-served basis for the first 1.5 million eligible youths. It was announced by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak when tabling the 2013 Budget in September to give youths better access to the information superhighway.
Opinions on the package varied, with some liking it and others feeling that it was inadequate. Noridayu Ibrahim, 25, wants to be one of the first to register for the scheme. The technician who works in a hotel in Port Dickson has been hoping to upgrade her old feature phone for quite sometime but has been lacking the budget to do so.
Like many her age, she uses her phone regularly to keep track of her friends on social networking sites.
“With a better smartphone, I will be able to do more than access Facebook and send e-mail messages,” she says.
The scheme will also benefit youths who have just entered the job market, Noridayu says.
Echoing a similar sentiment, Betsy Yeo Wai Li, 26, a kindergarten administrator, says the scheme is a good start for helping fresh graduates holding their first job.
“The RM200 will go a long way for some,” she says.
However, not everyone welcomes the offer. Tracie Yeo, 26, who is self-employed, says owning a smartphone will not improve a person’s quality of life.
“The package will definitely benefit some but it also has the potential to burden youths further. If they can’t afford to buy a smartphone in the first place, how will they cope with paying for a higher monthly bill because of data usage?” she asked.
Yeo said the money will be better spent helping low income earners in other areas. TNB technician Mohd Haffis Shaharuddin, 24, said the scheme is nothing to shout about.
“I already own a smartphone but use it mainly to make calls and send messages,” he says. He feels the money should be used to upgrade and improve network coverage instead.
Engineer Chooi Wai Ken says he isn’t too confident with the smartphone choices. SKMM has listed over 20 smartphones from seven manufacturers including Samsung, Nokia and HTC that cost less than RM500.
“I would question the quality of smartphones that are priced under RM500,” says the 25-year-old.
“It would be pointless to get a cheap phone if it’s going to breakdown after a few months. High-quality smartphones will serve better in the long run.”
Registration for the Youth Communication Package can be done online at nbi.skmm.gov.my.