Shipping license requirement does not hinder undersea cable projects, says Dr Wee

PETALING JAYA: The current requirement for foreign vessels to obtain a Domestic Shipping License (DSL) to carry out submarine cable repair work is not a hindrance to any such project, says Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong.

The Transport Minister said that Malaysia had never been the proposed landing site for the Apricot submarine cable project since it was announced in 2017, which is owned by a consortium led by NTT Limited Japan.

"The Apricot cable system is 12,000km long, with a capacity of more than 190Tbps.

"It will connect Japan to Singapore, with branches to Indonesia, the Philippines, Taiwan and the United States."

He added that on Aug 16, 2021, NTT announced that Apricot would be a part of cable network systems with its existing Asia Submarine-cable Express (ASE) whose landing site is in Mersing, Johor; the Asia Pacific Gateway (APG) with a landing station in Kuantan, Pahang, as well as the Pacific Crossing-1 (PC-1), Jupiter and upcoming MIST (with a landing site in Morib) or Myanmar/Malaysia-India-Singapore-Thailand cable systems.

"Together, this network of systems puts Malaysia in the middle, he said," he said in a Facebook post on Friday (May 20).

Dr Wee was responding to a report claiming that Malaysia missed out on another subsea Internet cable project on May 16.

"The article is written without reference to actual facts.

"As noted within the article itself, China Mobile International (CMI) had issued a press statement on May 12 to announce a partnership that will 'construct and operate the South-East Asia Hainan-Hong Kong Express Cable System (SEA-H2X), a new submarine cable system that will connect Hong Kong SAR China, Hainan China, Philippines, Thailand, East Malaysia and Singapore, with options to extend to Vietnam, Cambodia, West Malaysia and Indonesia'.

"The excerpt from CMI’s statement above itself negates Utusan Malaysia’s article which has attempted to cast aspersions on Malaysia’s cabotage policy, even after well-published efforts by the Transport Ministry to explain the revocation of the exemption signed in November 2020.

"If the revocation of the cabotage policy exemption does in fact jeopardise the project, the consortium headed by CMI would not have made the announcement on May 12.

"This proves that the current requirement for foreign vessels to obtain a Domestic Shipping License to conduct undersea cable repair is not a hindrance to any undersea cable project," he said.

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