Anthony Loke: Transport Ministry to conduct studies before deciding on cabotage policy for foreign submarine cable repair vessels

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

KUALA LUMPUR, March 11 — Transport Minister Anthony Loke has told Parliament that further studies will be conducted before making a decision on the national cabotage policy.

Bagan MP Lim Guan Eng had asked about the status of the cabotage exemption for undersea cable repairs in order to restore investor confidence and attract tech investments. In a written reply,

Anthony Loke said his ministry will study in detail the impact, industrial needs as well as micro and macro aspects in determining the direction of the policy.

The Seremban MP added that his ministry is actively conducting engagement sessions with stakeholders and related parties to obtain a win-win solution for all parties involved, especially foreign investors, telecommunication companies and local shipping industry players.

During Anthony Loke’s tenure as the Transport Minister under the previous Pakatan Harapan administration in 2019, a cabotage exemption was granted to non-Malaysian vessels conducting undersea cable repairs.

It was seen as a necessary move as Malaysia didn’t have the required repair ships while tech companies relied on foreign ships to carry out the job.

The cabotage exemption was aimed at speeding up undersea cable repairs that could take up to 27 days to fix which has a negative impact on attracting telecommunications and internet investors.

When announcing the exemption, he said the government’s main consideration is to increase Malaysia’s competitiveness in attracting investors including Facebook, Google and Amazon who wish to construct undersea cables and data centres.

After the change of government in 2020, former Transport Minister Dr Wee Ka Siong revoked the cabotage exemption which raised concerns among tech industry players. The issue was hotly debated in Parliament with Anthony Loke and Gobind Singh blasting Dr Wee Ka Siong for his ignorance about undersea cable.

With Anthony Loke back as the current Transport Minister, MyIX has called upon the government to reinstate the cabotage exemption for foreign ships to conduct undersea cable repairs in Malaysia.

In a statement released in January, MyIX said this is among the investor-friendly policies that they are looking forward to strengthening Malaysia’s position as a regional tech hub.

MyIX chairman Chiew Kok Hin said a growing number of data centre operations have moved and are moving to Malaysia to enhance data speeds to cater for densely populated cities within the Southeast Asian region.

This includes hyper-scale data centres which offer robust, scalable applications and storage portfolio of services to individuals and businesses. He iterated that reinstatement of the policy would enable Malaysia to attract more submarine cable investments leading into Malaysia. — SoyaCincau