After U-turn on cabotage exemption, Tok Mat tells Putrajaya to make informed decisions or risk turning Malaysia into a joke

Emmanuel Santa Maria Chin
·2-min read
Umno deputy president Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan suggested that such decisions by the government that stifle technological development could turn the country into a laughing stock and see it lose out on foreign direct investment opportunities. ― Picture by Hari Anggara
Umno deputy president Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan suggested that such decisions by the government that stifle technological development could turn the country into a laughing stock and see it lose out on foreign direct investment opportunities. ― Picture by Hari Anggara

KUALA LUMPUR, April 9 — The government should be making informed decisions when deciding public policies, Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan said today,

The Umno deputy president was referring to the government’s decision to revoke cabotage exemption for undersea cable repair vessels.

The politician said such reversals could have multi-billion-ringgit implications on Malaysia’s economy.

“Protectionist policies and bureaucratic bottlenecks that thrive on nepotism and cronyism are passé now.

“We need to educate and reinvent ourselves to compete in open borders or we would fail as a nation.

“Malaysia is probably seen as an international joke for the way we handle our domestic and international affairs in the recent past. At this rate, the rakyat and the nation would be led down a dark path sooner than later,” he said in a statement this evening.

Mohamad suggested that such decisions by the government that stifle technological development could turn the country into a laughing stock and see it lose out on foreign direct investment (FDI) opportunities, despite Malaysia being a viable investment destination.

“If we do not have any Big Tech offerings to the world, the next best option would be to seduce big tech companies to use Malaysia as a regional hub.

“We have distinctive advantages. An outreaching and well-connected network of roads, small geography but strategically located, and human capital,” he said.

Mohamad agreed with Malaysian Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) chairman Datuk Rais Hussin Mohamed Ariff’s criticism of the cabotage exemption reversal.

“The chairman of MDEC Rais Hussin, who is a member of PPBM (Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia), has elucidated clearly the pitfalls of the government’s self-serving agenda,” he wrote.

Rais recently pointed out the revocation of the cabotage exemption might come off as a policy meant to prioritise a sole Malaysian company that offers undersea cable repair work services, suggesting favouritism.

The MDEC chief had also questioned the reasoning behind the move to revoke cabotage exemptions considering how the Malaysian company is only equipped for shallow water repairs and not in deeper seas as required by mainstream tech companies.

This after recent reports of tech giants Facebook and Google opting for neighbours Singapore and Indonesia as destinations for their respective undersea cable projects aimed at boosting internet connectivity between Singapore, Indonesia and North America.

The exclusion of Malaysia in such projects has seen the government come under intense criticism for drafting policies that repel such FDI opportunities.

Transport Minister Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong later insisted that Malaysia’s cabotage policy was not the reason the tech giants bypassed Malaysia for their undersea cabling projects, and instead blamed it on a lack of data infrastructure.

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