KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 12 — A Pakatan Harapan (PH) lawmaker today proposed to refer Transport Minister Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong and Communications and Multimedia Minister Tan Sri Annuar Musa to the parliamentary rights and privileges committee, to determine which of the two had “lied” about the cabotage exemption policy.
DAP’s Bukit Mertajam MP Steven Sim, using Standing Order 36(12), pointed to what he labelled as “contradictory” statements from the two ministers.
“I specifically refer to the speech of Ayer Hitam MP, who is also the transport minister, in this hall on September 30, 2021, and also the written reply given to me by Ketereh MP (Annuar) in this Parliament on October 5.
Sim said that Wee had, in his speech, as recorded in the Hansard, clearly denied that his decision to revoke the cabotage exemption policy had caused the Apricot Subsea Cable System Project by Facebook and Google to bypass Malaysia.
“He said there is no such thing. However, on October 5, 2021, the Ketereh MP as the communications and multimedia minister had given a written reply to me and I quote the written reply: Ketereh said that the selection of countries to join the Apricot Subsea Cable System Project is a decision by Facebook and Google.
“This is his point: Malaysia is not listed, and he added in English, the word “bypassed” as a nation that is involved in the submarine cable landing station, owing to the cabotage exemption policy that is still unsettled,” he read, pointing out the stark contradictions between the two minister’s explanations.
Sim also pointed to the statement by Datuk Rais Hussin Mohamed Ariff, who recently resigned as Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) chairman, that Malaysia lost out on high technology investments worth tens of billions of ringgit, as a result of Wee’s decision.
“So this contradiction shows that surely, it’s impossible that both of them are right. One of them had surely lied and twisted the facts,” Sim said, adding that he had already sent an official letter to Dewan Rakyat Speaker Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun, to “determine the truth on who spoke the truth and who lied”.
“And after we get the truth, to then refer the minister who lied to the rights and privileges committee in line with Standing Order 36(12). I give you the space to decide, but if the Speaker cannot determine who spoke the truth or who lied then I suggest that both ministers are referred to the rights and privileges committee,” Sim added.
In April, Facebook and Google revealed they would lay two huge subsea cables linking the West Coast of the United States to Singapore and Indonesia, South-east Asia’s biggest economy and home to a growing number of smartphone users, bypassing Malaysia.
The cabotage row began when Wee, in November 2020, revoked the exemption made by his PH predecessor Anthony Loke.
Shortly after the revocation, Rais issued a public statement criticising the exemption reversal.
He resigned from MDEC last week, following his remarks likening Wee to a “minister with an IQ of a cabbage” on social media.
Following that, Lim challenged Wee to a debate on the cabotage policy but Wee has yet to set a date for the debate.
Lim noted that Wee had said the Cabinet will make a final decision early this month and asked why the minister could not set the debate date for October 23.
He asserted that Wee’s decision to bring back cabotage has caused Malaysia to be excluded from the Apricot project by Facebook and Google, losing out on potential high tech investment opportunities worth up to RM15 billion.