Wee: Govt to decide on cabotage policy next month

pic by BLOOMBERG

TRANSPORT Minister Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong said the government will make a decision on the cabotage policy when it is tabled in early October.

In his wind-up speech, Wee said the matter will be deliberated in detail in order to safeguard the nation’s sovereignty, as well as ensuring the foreign investments will remain.

“The Transport Ministry will present this policy to the Cabinet in early October once we get the feedback of all relevant ministries and agencies, to determine the direction of the policy,” he told Dewan Rakyat yesterday.

The Malaysian Reserve reported last month that Malaysia’s exclusion from major subsea optic cable investments meant to upgrade the Internet infrastructure could stunt the quality of the country’s connectivity and hinder it from achieving the goals of the Malaysia Digital Economic blueprint (MyDigital).

Malaysia has missed out on two subsea cable system investments under the purview of tech giants Facebook Inc and Google LLC, namely Echo and Bifrost, and is now set to add the Apricot subsea cable system to the list.

MIDF Research Institute Sdn Bhd estimated that Malaysia’s exclusion from the Facebook and Google-backed Apricot subsea cable will result in a loss of high-capacity connectivity and investment worth US$300 million-US$400 million (RM1.68 billion).

Wee said foreign ships still need to have a Domestic Shipping Licence (DSL) before it starts operations in national waters.

On cabotage exemptions, Wee said it was granted in April 2019 following the delay in the issuance of the DSL.

“However, with improvements that have been implemented, including the use of eDSL systems, the verification process has been able to be expedited,” said Wee,

“Moreover, although the exemption has been revoked, foreign ships involved with submarine cable repairs are still given DSL to operate in state waters,” Wee said, adding that ten foreign ships have received the DSLs for the period December 2020 to August 2021.

Even DSL approval was given within three days, compared to five to seven days previously.

“The Ministry of Transport is of the view that the Government should be balancing efforts to build the capacity of the local shipping industry local; increase capacity in the domestic services sector, reducing the country’s dependence on foreign ships as well as ensuring national security and sovereignty secured by reducing the operation of foreign vessels in Malaysian waters,” he added.