(Updated)

Malaysia has not finalised decision on revocation of cabotage exemption for foreign vessels — Khairy

Malaysia has not finalised decision on revocation of cabotage exemption for foreign vessels — Khairy
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KUALA LUMPUR (Dec 7): The Malaysian Government has not finalised its decision on the revocation of cabotage exemption on foreign-flagged vessels performing submarine cable repairs in Malaysian waters and the matter is still being discussed at the Cabinet level, according to Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin Abu Bakar (pictured).

Khairy said in Parliament here today that the government is still deliberating the matter and that policymakers will include negotiations with international technology companies to reach a decision that will be announced soon. 

"I have brought this matter up in the Cabinet meeting and it has already been taken note by the Ministry of Transport (MoT). We are currently devising a procedure that will provide opportunities to local industries but at the same time, will not affect the time required to make those repairs to the submarine cables," he said.

Khairy was responding to a question by Bakri member of Parliament Yeo Bee Yin, who had earlier asked for the ministry's stand on Transport Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong's decision to revoke the cabotage exemption on foreign-flagged vessels performing submarine cable repairs in Malaysian waters.

Yeo claimed that cabotage-exemption revocation concerns will send a very negative signal to not only technology start-ups, but also private venture capital companies that Malaysia wants to attract.

"The cabotage policy issue is clearly not friendly to high-tech companies. This will send a very negative signal to not only technology start-ups, but also private venture capital companies that we want to attract to get involved with the fund-of-funds model started by the government," she said. 

A fund-of-funds model refers to a scheme, which invests its money in other funds across various asset classes like equities and bonds.

It was reported that the cabotage exemption was introduced in April 2019 by the previous Pakatan Harapan government to reduce the time required to repair undersea cables.

It was reported that on Nov 13, 2020, Wee issued a federal gazette to revoke the cabotage exemption to reduce outflow of foreign exchange and minimise the country's dependence on foreign vessels by increasing the involvement of local shipping companies in the domestic service.

At Parliament today, Wee, however, did not address the matter during his winding up speech. 

The allocation for the MoT under Budget 2021, was today passed by the Parliament’s Lower House or Dewan Rakyat, after 109 MPs voted in favour of the proposal versus 94, who voted against it. 

For more Parliament stories, click here.

Chong Jin Hun