No need for personal attacks over cabotage policy, says maritime professionals group

  • Nation
  • Sunday, 03 Oct 2021

KUALA LUMPUR: There is no need for emotional personal attacks over the cabotage policy, says Association of Malaysia’s Maritime Professionals (Ikmal).

Its president Capt Zuradi Zainol Abidin made the call following the recent outburst on social media by Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) chairman Dr Rais Hussin against Transport Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong.

"The esteemed Dr Rais Hussin, resorting to a level of hurling personal attacks against the minister, has inadvertently permitted himself to join the sorry cabal of emotional individuals who opt for name-calling as opposed to cerebral disagreement," said Capt Zuradi.

On Sept 30, Dr Rais had posted on his Twitter account: “Minister with an IQ of cabbage should not be talking abt cabotage policy. Tech giants have written many times to the 2 PMs under PN, about the exemption of cabotage policy for submarine cable repair.”

While acknowledging differing views on the issue, Capt Zuradi said that the matter should be approached based on facts.

"What needs to be avoided is for a party to denigrate and humiliate another individual simply on the basis of the latter holding a stance contrary to the former," he said in a statement on Sunday (Oct 3).

Despite not being included in Facebook and Google’s Apricot project, Malaysia has not been left out of any regional plans to boost Internet connectivity, says Dr Wee.

Dr Wee said this was because Malaysia is part of the US$400mil (RM1.62bil) MIST (Myanmar, Malaysia, India, Singapore) subsea cable system which is expected to be completed in the fourth quarter of 2022.

Planned in 2018, the 8,100km MIST cable system would directly connect Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore and India with the Apricot project, a 12,000km undersea Internet cable project connecting Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines, Indonesia and Singapore, said Dr Wee.

“Therefore, the issue of Malaysia losing out after being bypassed (by the Apricot project) is nonsensical,” he said during Question Time in Parliament on Thursday (Sept 30).

Dr Wee was responding to Lim Guan Eng (PH-Bagan), who asked whether the reimposition of cabotage policy on submarine cable repair works had caused Malaysia to miss out on foreign investments.

Lim cited a news report that the Apricot project by Facebook and Google would bypass Malaysia entirely and he blamed the nation’s cabotage policy as deterring foreign investments.

In response, Dr Wee explained that Malaysia was skipped in the Apricot project due to rising tensions between the United States and China trade war in 2015.

Dr Wee said that Malaysia’s cabotage policy on undersea cable installation has always been the same since 1980.

“What Bagan is saying now is about repair works. Repair works and installations are different matters and that’s why what was said by MDEC was wrong, because the cabotage policy covers the context of repair works, and not installation.”

In April, Rais was quoted as urging the government to reimplement cabotage exemptions for undersea cable repair works, saying that it is vital to attract foreign investments.

Meanwhile, Capt Zuradi said the association hoped that any difference on the issue is resolved through rational discussions rather than "free-for-all, by-the roadside style of encounters".

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