Guan Eng: Tech firms may give Malaysia a miss without reversal of cabotage policy

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Former finance minister Lim Guan Eng today urged Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaaokob to reverse the cabotage policy approved by the previous Perikatan Nasional administration.

The Opposition lawmaker said Malaysia may continue missing out on future investments by tech firms due to the previous government’s refusal to grant a cabotage exemption to investors.

“Without submarine cables, data centres will not flourish, and at that point how can we attract digital investments that matter?

Lim Huey Teng/Reuters

“Why will renowned high-tech digital companies like Zoom or TikTok come here then?” the Bagan MP asked in a press statement.

“Ismail Sabri should show that he is different from the failed government of Muhyiddin, by putting national interests and our digital future over selfish political and private interests,” he added.

Lim claimed the previous government under Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin had jeopardised digital investments of between RM12 billion to RM15 billion from Facebook and Google, due to its insistence on the cabotage policy.

The Bagan MP also noted that Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong who was the transport minister in the Muhyiddin administration had been reappointed to the same post in the new government but urged Ismail Sabri to intervene for a policy change on cabotage.

Lim noted that news reports earlier this month indicated that Apricot — Facebook and Google’s new subsea cable that is aimed at boosting regional connectivity — may bypass Malaysia entirely.

Facebook said in a statement that the cable system, expected to launch in 2024, would provide an initial design capacity of more than 190 terabytes per second (tbps) to meet rising data demand in the region and support the upcoming Echo and Bifrost cables, which also will not connect to Malaysia. – MMO