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Thursday, October 14, 2021

Speaker instructs Wee to explain alleged misleading statement in Parliament

 


The Dewan Rakyat has instructed Transport Minister Wee Ka Siong to provide an explanation over his statement on cabotage policy, which is said to have misled the house on Sept 30.

This came after Lim Guan Eng (Harapan-Bagan) filed a motion to Dewan Rakyat speaker Azhar Azizan Harun on Oct 11, requesting Wee to be referred to the Rights and Privileges Committee.

In a letter issued to Wee on the same day, Azhar also requested Wee to provide evidence or document to substantiate his explanation.

The letter was made available to the media by Lim who received it from Azhar.

" It is informed that Lim has submitted a motion to refer you to the Rights and Privileges Committee for issuing statements deemed misleading to the house during an oral answer session on Sept 30," said Azhar in the letter.

"The statement is considered to be in conflict with a written reply by the Minister of Communications and Multimedia Annuar Musa on Oct 5," he said.

"As such, you are requested to provide an explanation together with supporting evidence or documents," ruled Azhar.

Lim, who is also DAP secretary-general, has filed the motion under Clause 36(12) of the Standing Order for misleading the house, to Azhar on Monday.

Transport Minister Wee Ka Siong

On Sept 30, Wee told Dewan Rakyat that Malaysia's cabotage policy was not the reason why the country was not involved in the Apricot subsea cable project.

However, Annuar said in a written reply that Facebook and Google "bypassed" Malaysia for the landing of the Apricot project "in view of the unresolved issue concerning the exemption for the cabotage policy".

Malaysia's cabotage policy gives preference to Malaysian vessels to, among others, perform subsea cable repairs.

This regulation was exempted during the Pakatan Harapan administration but reinstated during the Muhyiddin Yassin administration.

Tech giants Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft and Google have repeatedly lobbied successive Malaysian governments for the exemption since no Malaysian vessel could do the job and an appeal process by foreign vessels will delay critical repairs.

No blanket exemption

Moreover, government-owned Telekom Malaysia Bhd has an interest in Asean Cableship Ptd Ltd - a Singapore-based joint venture that owns a DP2 class ship capable of carrying out subsea cable maintenance.

Telekom Malaysia is mostly owned by government-controlled funds.

Prior to the Apricot project, Malaysia was also overlooked for the Echo and Bitfrost subsea cable project.

However, Wee has stuck to his position that there can be no blanket exemption in order to build local capacity and reduce foreign currency outflows.

Instead, he said foreign vessels can still apply for exemptions and will be granted rights to repair jobs within 48 hours if no local vessel takes it up. - Mkini

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