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Tech giants seek meeting with PM Ismail Sabri on foreign ship cable waiver

Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Amazon are seeking to meet Malaysia’s prime minister to ask that foreign vessels be allowed to repair undersea cables in its waters, a Google spokesperson said today.

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The tech giants sent a letter on Wednesday to the office of the new premier, Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, to discuss Malaysia’s cabotage policy, seeking the reinstatement of an exemption revoked last year under the previous government, said the spokesperson for Alphabet Inc’s Google.

Cabotage rules regulate activities in a country’s waters.

The tech giants are being represented by Malaysia’s national Internet exchange body, the Malaysia Internet Exchange (MyIX), which is taking the lead on engaging with the government.

MyIX chairman Chiew Kok Hin said the situation would be different if the domestic industry is more developed, with several companies having the required cable repair capabilities.

“Where’s the harm in allowing tech giants to continue using foreign vessels for repair works while facilitating transfer of knowledge, so the local industry can develop,” Chiew told Reuters via email, adding that there is only one Malaysian company in the industry and it lacks the capability.

Facebook Inc, Microsoft Corp and Amazon.com Inc did not immediately respond to Reuters queries on the letter. Nor did the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) or the Ministry of Transport (MoT).

The ministry last November overturned the exemption, granted in 2019, allowing non-Malaysian ships to carry out repairs to submarine cables. The tech giants also wrote to then premier Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, seeking to reinstate the waiver.

Ismail Sabri took over as the prime minister two weeks ago after Muhyiddin lost his parliamentary majority.

The tech group said it is “very concerned” about last year’s decision.

“This exemption ensured that submarine cable repair works could be conducted efficiently within a short time frame, thus minimising the duration and economic impact of cable disruptions,” they said. The Edge Markets

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