KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 26 — Both Transport Minister Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong and Communications and Multimedia Minister Tan Sri Annuar Musa had not “confused” Parliament about Malaysia’s cabotage exemption policy; neither did they contradict each other on this issue, Dewan Rakyat Speaker Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun has said.
Azhar said this in his written reply dated October 22 to two Opposition MPs, namely former finance minister Lim Guan Eng and former youth and sports deputy minister Steven Sim.
Azhar noted that he had asked both Wee and Annuar to provide their explanations, adding that he had considered their explanations, along with the September 30 Hansard which had recorded Dewan Rakyat debates on that day as well as Annuar’s October 5 written reply on that matter.
“In line with that, I find that the Transport Minister and the Communications and Multimedia Minister had not issued statements that confuse the Dewan under Standing Order 36(12) when answering the questions directed towards them,” Azhar wrote in his October 22 letter that was made available to the media today by Sim.
The Dewan Rakyat’s Standing Order 36(12) states that “Any member who imputes statements that mislead the House is deemed to be in contempt of the House and the member may be referred to the Committee of Privileges for the offence.”
Referring to the two ministers’ statements regarding the Apricot Subsea Cable System Project and the omission of Malaysia from the project, Azhar claimed that they were not contradicting each other.
Azhar said the essence of Wee’s September 30 statement as transport minister was that the cabotage exemption policy only applies to repair works and not to installation of subsea cables and that this therefore did not apply to the cable laying project, Project Apricot.
Azhar noted that Wee was of the view that the implementation of the cabotage policy should not be blamed as the sole factor for Malaysia’s exclusion from Project Apricot.
He noted that Annuar as the communications and multimedia minister had meanwhile in his October 5 written reply explained that Malaysia was not listed in Project Apricot due to the decision of the related companies and as the cabotage policy had yet to be resolved, with Azhar further noting that Cabinet had only decided on the cabotage policy on October 8.
“Therefore, I find those two statements are not contradictory or confusing,” he said in the letter, when referring to both Wee’s and Annuar’s statements.
As for the estimated loss of investment worth RM12 billion to RM15 billion floating about, Azhar said this was just an estimate and Wee chose to not agree with this estimate and gave his own views regarding this.
Azhar then concluded his letter by rejecting the motions by Lim and Sim.
Azhar was referring to the motions made by the two opposition MPS previously on October 11.
Lim had in his October 11 motion sought to have Wee referred to the Dewan Rakyat’s Committee of Privileges.
Sim in his October 11 letter to Azhar pointed out the alleged contradictions in both Wee’s and Annuar’s statements on whether the cabotage policy had led to Malaysia being bypassed in Project Apricot, and had on October 11 asked Azhar to determine the truth and to then refer the minister who had allegedly twisted facts and confused the Dewan Rakyat to the Committee of Privileges.
Sim had also on October 12 in the Dewan Rakyat suggested that both ministers Wee and Annuar be referred to the Committee of Privileges if the Speaker is unable to determine which of the ministers had lied.
Today, Sim in a letter to Azhar referred to the October 22 letter which he had received yesterday, stating his disagreement with the Dewan Rakyat Speaker’s decision and again reiterating his application to have the minister who had allegedly confused the Dewan Rakyat to be referred to the Committee of Privileges.
In the same letter to Azhar, Sim disputed three points, including the joint written explanation given by the two ministers to the Speaker and which Sim claimed had twisted Annuar’s initial October 5 statement.
Sim disputed the two ministries’ claim that there was no contradiction in the ministers’ previous statements on September 30 and October 5 with the explanation that the Cabinet had only decided the cabotage exemption policy on October 8.
Sim said such an explanation did not make sense and claimed that this meant the Cabinet was now being cited as being related to the alleged failure by a minister which he said had resulted in Malaysia not being involved in the Apricot project.
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.