Wednesday, December 2

Masa thanks minister for revoking exemption for foreign-flagged, cable-laying vessels

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SIBU: The Malaysia Shipowners Association (Masa) has described the revocation of exemption Under Section 65u, as published in the Federal Government Gazette on Nov 13 this year, as ‘a wise one – taken in the spirit of patriotism and the Malaysia First agenda’.

In thanking Transport Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong for revoking the exemption, Masa chairman Datuk Abdul Hak Md Amin believed that such a decision would further encourage the development of the local shipping industry, especially those operating in the submarine cable-laying and maintenance sectors.

“We thank the minister for undoubtedly ‘walking the talk’ – we (Masa) are very grateful for this great announcement,” said Abdul Hak in a statement yesterday.

Adding on, he regarded the revocation as ‘being timely’ for the industry as many businesses in the shipping industry had been experiencing financial difficulties due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“With more than 30,000km of submarine cables within our domestic and Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) waters, it (revocation of exemption) should augur well for the local shipping companies to participate in the installation and maintenance of the (submarine) cables.

“We have member companies that are capable of providing cable-laying installation and maintenance works but their jobs are mostly overseas – for example in Indonesia, Singapore and Africa.

“As such, local telecommunications companies prefer foreign-flagged vessels to carry out the local jobs.

“The revocation (of the exemption) would put this practice to a stop, and pave the way for local companies to gain opportunities and invest in this very niche market segment, so that it would be able to grow and support the marine industry by creating new jobs, encouraging technology transfer, and also garnering foreign direct investments into the marine and subsea technologies to support the telecommunications industry,” said Abdul Hak.

He also said apart from keeping the freights in the country and minimising the outflow of funds, the move would also help protect strategic elements like the marine cables and pipelines, as well as hydrographic data – all regarded as ‘very important for the security of a nation’.

“These matters can never be compromised,” he added.