MDEC chief Rais Hussin under fire over criticism of Wee Ka Siong

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Rais has criticised the government’s decision to withdraw the cabotage exemption for foreign vessels carrying out undersea cable maintenance.

Maritime industry associations have come to the defence of Transport Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong following criticism against him by Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) chairman Datuk Dr Rais Hussin Mohamed Ariff.

Rais Hussin, on Sept 30, had on Twitter criticised the minister over his stand on the cabotage policy issue concerning the reinstatement of the cabotage exemption for submarine cable repairs.

“Minister with the IQ of a cabbage should not be talking about the cabotage policy. Tech giants have written many times to the two PMs under PN, about the exemption of cabotage policy for submarine cable repair,” Rais wrote.

Datuk Abdul Hak Md Amin, chairman of the Malaysia Shipowners’ Association (Masa), said there was no need for Rais to go on a “personal attack”.

He labelled Rais as “a disgrace not only to his industry but his peers” for the act and called for his removal.

“As professionals, we may differ in opinions, but we don’t go on personal attacks.

“The minister, as the custodian of the cabotage policy, is well-versed with the objectives and the needs of the policy in the country.

“Malaysia is one of about 100 countries worldwide practising this policy and MASA stands solidly behind the minister in his firm action to ensure Malaysia’s sovereignty and security are safeguarded by enforcing the cabotage policy,” he said in a joint statement with other associations.

Ikhtisas Kelautan Malaysia (IKMAL) president Capt Zuradi Zainol Abidin echoed Abdul Hak’s views, saying that there was no need for Rais to resort to become emotional and resort to name-calling.

“IKMAL hopes that whatever differences between both can be resolved through wise and rational deliberations,” he said.

Malaysia OSV Owners’ Association (MOSVA) president Safwan Othman said it was unbecoming for Rais, as a GLC chairman, to issue such remarks.

“It demonstrates blatant arrogance and a contemptuous attitude by a person holding a top office.

“MOSVA does not condone such public statements but encourages mutual respect in the spirit of ‘Keluarga Malaysia’. Any issues must be discussed in a proper and professional manner without criticising any individuals,” he said.

Rais had in April urged the government to reintroduce cabotage exemptions for undersea cable repair works, arguing that it is vital in order to draw foreign investments.

Wee had last month previously defended the cabotage policy, saying that its implementation has not left Malaysia out of any regional plans to boost online connectivity. – NST