Guan Eng fires latest salvo in verbal battle with Ka Siong over cabotage policy debate

Lim reiterated the Apricot Subsea Cable System Project by Facebook and Google bypassing Malaysia was a result of Wee’s refusal to grant a cabotage exemption. ― Picture by Hari Anggara
Lim reiterated the Apricot Subsea Cable System Project by Facebook and Google bypassing Malaysia was a result of Wee’s refusal to grant a cabotage exemption. ― Picture by Hari Anggara

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KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 19 — DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng today suggested the reason for the delay in his debate with Transport Minister Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong on the cabotage exemption is because the latter is trying to change aspects of the policy.

Lim suggested this is why former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak is stirring the pot too.

“On the one hand, Najib questions why I cannot wait 10 days for the debate to be held on November 2 instead of insisting on October 23. On the other hand, Najib tries to mock me by predicting that I would not dare to debate Wee.

“Whilst I do not wish to exchange insults with Najib, one wonders whether the 10-day delay is due to Wee trying to change aspects of his cabotage policy?” he said in a statement today.

The Bagan MP said that Malaysian cabotage law covers submarine cable deployment and repairs, which means when the best ship available for a cable repair is a foreign ship, a Domestic Shipping Licence Exemption (DSLE) is required.

He added that local ship owners are asked for consent for foreign ships to work instead via the Malaysia Shipowners Association (Masa), adding that they can block the DSLE issuance if they think they can handle the submarine cable repairs.

“This is the main contention by tech giants and industry players that the foreign repair vessels require consent from their local competitors for up to three days to get a DSLE.

“Will this requirement, where local ship owners are asked for their consent through Masa and blocking the issuance of the DSLE to foreign repair ships, be modified, changed or dropped altogether?” he said.

Lim then reiterated the Apricot Subsea Cable System Project by Facebook and Google bypassing Malaysia was a result of Wee’s refusal to grant a cabotage exemption, suggesting that Najib should help to bring the tech giants back into play.

“Perhaps Najib can now assist Wee to get back the Apricot project and convince Amazon Web Services (AWS), Facebook, Google and Microsoft to return to Malaysia to deploy submarine cables,” he said.

On September 30, Wee denied in the Dewan Rakyat that his decision to revoke the cabotage exemption policy resulted in the Apricot Subsea Cable System Project by Facebook and Google bypassing Malaysia.

On October 5, in another Facebook post, Wee said he was ready to debate Lim, who is a former finance minister, over the national cabotage policy.

He said he would not duck out of it and planned to set a suitable date on any TV channel or media outlet willing to air the encounter.

Yesterday, Wee said he is ready to debate the cabotage policy with Lim on November 2. In a Facebook post, Wee said he has been in contact with local television channel TV3 over the proposed date.

He also chided Lim for making allegedly slanderous remarks in a Facebook posting three days ago on the debate and reminded the Bagan MP that he had always planned to hold the debate after the tabling of Budget 2022.

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