Anwar bemoans loss of undersea cable project, warns this could also affect future FDI

PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim speaks at the Temu Anwar session at Flamingo hotel in Ampang, April 1, 2021. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim speaks at the Temu Anwar session at Flamingo hotel in Ampang, April 1, 2021. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

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KUALA LUMPUR, April 2 — Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has today criticised the Perikatan Nasional government for failing to build Malaysia’s 5G capability properly, claiming that it could also affect foreign direct investment (FDI).

Speaking of the recent Facebook and Google partnership to construct two underwater cables to increase Internet connectivity between Singapore, Indonesia and North America, he said Putrajaya’s actions have once again let to Malaysia being sidelined.

“Perhaps this is the objective by the leaders through ‘selective’ strategies, in order to attract foreign investment and increase our digital capabilities,” he said in a statement, referring to a recent remark by senior minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali on the FDI flight.

Anwar said this showed that the strategy has failed as digital technology giants now just prefer to avoid Malaysia.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in a drop in Malaysia’s Internet quality, whereas the rate of usage is on a constant rise in various sectors.

“This development is most worrying, and a major loss to the nation. It will also affect our ability in ensuring the rapid digitalisation of our economy,” he said.

The Port Dickson MP added that Malaysians will end up paying high prices for low Internet speed, and that this could have an adverse impact on the gross domestic product by as much as 6.9 per cent, citing several reports as evidence.

“The reason why Malaysia was not included in this mega-project, as Malaysia Internet Exchange has stated, is due to the wisdom of the PN government which forbade foreign vessels to conduct undersea cable repairs.

“In November last year the transport minister cancelled the decision made by the Pakatan Harapan government to provide cabotage exemption, which drew disagreement from several tech companies,” he said, referring to Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong.

Anwar claimed PN’s actions created a virtual monopoly in which the country does not have the ability to increase its telecommunications reach on a large scale, which is a necessity to develop a digital economy.

“The government’s decision regarding the cabotage issue has resulted in a very negative situation for the country, and makes us weak in many aspects, including in terms of national security,” he said.

The decision to revoke the cabotage exemption for foreign ships to conduct undersea cable repairs by transport minister Wee led to a heated debate in Parliament on November 25.

His predecessor Anthony Loke and former communications and multimedia minister Gobind Singh Deo both criticised Wee’s rationale that the revocation would aid in increasing Malaysia’s domestic shipping capacity and capabilities, among other reasons.

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