Rais resigns as MDEC chairman

PUTRAJAYA: Days after being embroiled in the submarine cable cabotage policy issue, Datuk Dr Rais Hussin Mohamed Ariff has resigned as chairman of the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC).

The Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia supreme council member, however, said his decision to quit was made much earlier and that he had conveyed it to several ministers as early as August.

“I communicated my desire to resign to the Finance Minister (Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz) in mid-August. I reiterated the same to the new Communications and Multimedia Minister Tan Sri Annuar Musa in early September.

“Annuar listened attentively and understood my desire to resign,” Rais, who was appointed MDEC chairman in June last year, said in a statement yesterday.

On Sept 30, Rais tweeted an inappropriate remark against a minister over the cabotage policy.

Although the tweet did not specifically name anyone, it is believed to be related to Transport Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong, who had a heated exchange in the Dewan Rakyat with DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng over the issue.

Dr Wee had said that despite not being included in Facebook and Google’s Apricot project, Malaysia had not been left out of any regional plans to boost Internet connectivity.

He said this was because Malaysia was 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 will directly connect the four countries with the Apricot project, a 12,000km undersea Internet cable project linking 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 Sept 30.

Dr Wee also explained another reason Malaysia was skipped was because of rising tensions during the trade war between the United States and China in 2015.

Following Rais’ tweet, several shipping groups came to the defence of Dr Wee.

In his resignation statement, Rais did not mention the cabotage policy issue.

He said, however, that he had never compromised his principles even if he had to make unpopular decisions.

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