PETALING JAYA: The government’s handling of the country’s cabotage issue may lead to Malaysia becoming an international joke, Umno’s deputy president says.
Mohamad Hasan said that if the government lacks foresight, it should listen to stakeholders’ opinions before making decisions impacting multibillion-ringgit deals.
In a statement, he said Malaysia had distinctive advantages over others to encourage giant technology companies to instal undersea cables.
“(We have) an outreaching and well-connected network of roads, small geography yet strategically located, and human capital.
“However, we seem to effortlessly drive away potential big-tech (companies) to countries that have lesser attributes than us. Why?” he asked.
A news portal had earlier reported a statement from the Malaysia Internet Exchange (MyIX) criticising Malaysia’s cabotage policy, which said the new undersea cables linking the US to Singapore and Indonesia, announced by Facebook and Google, were a huge loss for Malaysia. The report was shared by former transport minister Loke Siew Fook on social media.
The cabotage exemption approved by the then Pakatan Harapan-led government allows foreign-registered vessels to perform undersea cable maintenance in Malaysian waters. However, it was revoked by transport minister Wee Ka Siong on Nov 15, 2020.
Mohamad, who is commonly known as Tok Mat, said there seems to be a lot of arguments going back and forth on the cabotage policy exemption for submarine cable repair that was revoked by the current government.
He added that Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) chairman Rais Hussin, who is a member of PPBM, had made clear the pitfalls of the government’s self-serving agenda.
”Let us be reminded that we live in a borderless world and a highly connected environment. If we do not have any big-tech offerings to the world, the next best option would be to seduce big-tech companies to use Malaysia as a regional hub,” he said.
Protectionist policies and bureaucratic bottlenecks that thrive on nepotism and cronyism are passé now, said Mohamad.
“We need to educate and reinvent ourselves to compete in open borders or we will fail as a nation,” he warned.
Malaysia, he said, was probably being seen “as an international joke” for the way the government is handling its domestic and international affairs.
“At this rate, the rakyat and the nation will be led down a dark path sooner rather than later,” he added.