Thursday, September 30, 2021

Wee KS and Lim GE will debate cabotage policy - Hope Lim GE won't run away like his father

Heated argument in Dewan over tech giants bypassing Malaysia

Wee Ka Siong says the issue of the Apricot subsea cable bypassing Malaysia does not arise because the cabotage rule is only for repairs and not for installation. (Bernama pic)

KUALA LUMPUR: A heated argument erupted over the country’s cabotage policy in the Dewan Rakyat today over the decision by tech giants Facebook and Google to bypass Malaysia for their new Apricot subsea cable in Asia Pacific.

It started with Lim Guan Eng (PH-Bagan) asking transport minister Wee Ka Siong over media reports in August that said the technology giants are bypassing Malaysia, causing the country to lose billions in investments.

Lim said that even Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) chairman Rais Hussin Mohamed Ariff had urged the government to restore the cabotage policy or miss out on progress.

He also said there are strong industry sources indicating that three new cables originally planned to be landing in Malaysia are now under review.

“Also under review are potential data centre investments worth RM12 billion to RM15 billion in foreign investments,” he said, quoting Rais’ previous remarks.

The cabotage exemption had previously allowed foreign vessels to perform undersea repair jobs in Malaysian waters. However, in November, Wee revoked the exemption for submarine cable repair, and dismissed claims that it would affect investments.

Lim urged Wee to correct any wrong cabotage policies to attract investors.

Wee, however, said the Apricot subsea project took place after a trade war between the US and China in 2015.

“Before that, there were a lot of old cables from Hong Kong and Japan to Singapore. When the trade war took place, they wanted to use alternative routes, through the Pacific Ocean which does not go through Malaysia.

“It goes through Japan, Taipei, the Philippines and Indonesia to Singapore over about 12,000km.”

Wee also explained that Malaysia’s cabotage policy on installation has remained the same since 1980.

“The Apricot project is about installation. Repair work and installation work are two different issues,” he said, adding that for repair work, the companies will need to inform if they are coming into Malaysian sea, and will get permission in three days.

“What the chairman of MDEC said is not correct because the policy (changes) are only for repair work, not for installation,” he said.

Thus, he said, the issue of investors bypassing Malaysia does not arise.

“I am ready to debate with Guan Eng for one hour in whatever programme (over the matter),” Wee said.

Lim then stood up and said he accepted the challenge to debate.

“You said the MDEC chairman was not right. I want to ask if Rais Hussin will be sacked? Who is right?” Lim said.

Wee replied that it was not about sacking anyone. “This is about being professional.”


  1. Waste of time to debate.

    My take on it.
    a) The Minister throwing in "National Security" concerns about pre-approved cabotage waivers to foreign specialist Cable repairs ships is Bullshit. These are specialist civilian vessels. The Malaysian Government can always reserve the right to inspect these ships whenever the come into Malaysian waters.

    b) Three days administrative wait for Government approval for cabotage waivers in the case of an Ultra High Capacity Fibre Optic cable downtime, is like three months , in Internet terms. The Minister who thinks this is not a problem is still living in the 1970s.

    c) NO Malaysian company and NO Malaysian ship has the capability to make repairs to such high end cables, so the approval requirement to waive the Cabotage is just administrative redtape Kerbau, and doesn't add any value.

    d) Because of the strategic position of the Malay Peninsular, basically All communications cables that pass from West/East have to make a landing either in Malaysia or Singapore.
    Guess who gets the investment now. Not Malaysia.

  2. Can we include the Kulim KXP airport that Wee KHAT Siong approved too? Very important to Penang Lang.

  3. As a layman, it does strike me that if the cabotage policy affects only repair works, it means too that before I install the cables, I would be mindful that any future repair works will be subject to the cabotage policy.

    It would deter me from installing the cables in the first instance.

    Or, am I being too simplistic?

    1. Before I invest in a Tesla car, I will consider very carefully how many workshops there are who can repair it.

  4. It could be Malaysia now mainly looks to its Red Mastah for future IT investments.

    Facebook and Google can go
    fly kites.

    1. Red Mastah!

      Only in a fart filled well can a mastah gets what it wants wantonly w/o questions just in case u have forgotten, old moneyed mfer!

      IT infrastructure & info r human phenomenons that r no longer dominated by yr Anglophone west!

      But, can a well dwelling katak cares?