Previously, the Tech Giants, Facebook and Google have proudly announced their Apricot project that will be strengthening the Internet connectivity in the Asia Pacific region.
Unfortunately, Malaysia had been left out of the project as there had been disputes over the government’s policy to allow an exemption for submarine to repair the cables.
In the recent Parliament session, the submarine cable cabotage issue has once again come under the spotlight when Transport Minister Dr Wee Ka Siong challenged former Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng to a debate.
Following the Transport Minister’s remarks, the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) Chairman, Dr Rais Hussin called out to the Transport Minister to stop talking about the cabotage policy, as he had an IQ level of a cabbage.
Meanwhile, Dr Rais said that the tech giants have written several times to both former Prime Minister, Muhyiddin Yassin and current Prime Minister Ismail Sabri to reinstate the cabotage exemption for submarine cable repair but there were no response from them.
He added that Guan Eng will have this “cabbage” for breakfast if ever the debate happens.
On Thursday (30 September), Guan Eng had questioned the Transport Minister about the losses our country suffer from the foreign direct investments (FDI) as a result of being left out by the tech giants for the new submarine cables.
Dr Wee then said that the installation of new submarine cables is different from the undersea cable repair works, insisting that the same cabotage policy was in place during Tun Mahathir’s time as the Prime Minister.
Nonetheless, Guan Eng then defended his statement with the points raised by Rais Hussin on the cabotage policy, which Dr Wee insisted that the MDEC Chairman is wrong. Dr Wee said the current cabotage policy is only used in the context of repairing cables and not for installation, and Malaysia has not stopped entry for foreign ships.
It is also worth mentioning that Rais Hussin has been of different opinions with Dr Wee on the cabotage issue. Back in April 2021, he criticised Dr Wee for putting the blame on Malaysia’s lack of data centre infrastructure.
Last month, the tech giants including Amazon Web Services, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft had once again written a joint letter to Ismail Sabri to request for the reinstatement of the cabotage exemption as soon as possible.
In the statement, they even highlighted that the cabotage exemption will help to ensure that submarine cable repair works can be done efficiently within a shorter timeframe and it will minimise the impact of cable disruption.
However, there had been no response from the government as of now.
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