By Steven Sim

GEORGETOWN, Malaysia--Transport Minister Wee Ka Siong must not continue to live in denial and stubbornly hold on to his harmful and wrong decision to revoke cabotage policy exemption on undersea cable repairs causing Malaysia to be excluded from Apricot project by Facebook and Google, resulting us to lose upto RM15 billion in high tech investments

On Sept. 30 Transport Minister Wee Ka Siong, in replying to questions from MP for Bagan, Lim Guan Eng, gave various excuses to deny that his decision to revoke the exemption of cabotage policy on undersea cable repairs had caused Malaysia to be excluded from the Apricot project by tech giants Facebook and Google.

Wee’s continual denial of the impact from his own harmful and wrong decision however runs contrary to the parliamentary reply I received on Oct. 5 from the Communication and Multimedia Minister. In his reply, the Communication and Multimedia Minister clearly stated, and I quote:

“Pemilihan negara bagi menyertai rancangan pemasangan kabel Internet Apricot dasar laut (subsea cables) adalah keputusan syarikat Facebook dan Google. Malaysia tidak tersenarai (bypass) sebagai salah satu negara yang terlibat dalam pendaratan stesen kabel dasar laut tersebut memandangkan isu pengecualian Dasar Kabotaj yang masih belum selesai.” 

Obviously, Wee’s cabinet colleague understood that it was our unresolved cabotage policy which caused Malaysia to be excluded by the tech giants in the Apricot project as pointed out by Lim Guan Eng and ex-MDEC chairman Rais Hussain. For reasons only known to himself, Wee however continues to live in denial.

Such an attitude by the Transport Minister is harmful and detrimental to our Malaysian economy and the Malaysian people in general. Instead of acknowledging weaknesses and rectifying them, Wee stubbornly holds on to his harmful and wrong decision. 

As a result of Wee’s stubbornness, he caused Malaysia to be continually excluded from a project which the Minister of Communication and Multimedia deemed as “sangat diperlukan” (much needed), and “elemen penting” (important element).  

According to former chairman of the Malaysian Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC), Rais Hussin, Wee Ka Siong’s act to revoke the cabotage exemption on undersea cable repairs previously issued by former Transport Minister Anthony Loke, may cause our country to lose upto RM15 billion in high tech investments

Besides MDEC, another government-linked institution, MIDF, also reported that Malaysia will suffer huge economic and financial losses due to the exclusion from the Apricot project. 

Since the Transport Minister is clearly deluded and continues to live in denial of the harmful impact of his decision, I urge Prime Minister Ismail Sabri to intervene and overturn this harmful and wrong decision to restore Malaysia’s competitiveness in the digital economy.