Datuk Dr Rais Hussin Mohamed Ariff has stepped down as Chairman at Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) after taking on the role for nearly 16 months. Free Malaysia Today reported that he had informed the Finance Minister of his decision to step down in August and to Communications and Multimedia Minister Annuar Musa in early September.
Rais described his experience in MDEC as a “very intense and enriching one” and he was tasked for reinvent the government agency. He said in his statement that credible open tenders for procurement was intensified, while a transparent grant administration was implemented based on “know-how” and not “know who”.
He added that GLC reforms must take place credibly and without political or any other forms of interference as such entities were funded by the public. He said, “It would have been much easier to just ‘follow’ instructions from the shareholder ministry and or the supervisory ministry, but that would be tantamount to a huge battle of conscience.”
The MDEC Chairman was a strong critic of the cabotage policy for undersea cable repairs and has been at loggerheads with Transport Minister Dr Wee Ka Siong. He has called for cabotage exemption to be restored immediately for the sake of attracting more digital investments.
Last week, Rais tweeted that a Minister with an IQ level of cabbage should not be talking about the cabotage policy. Although he didn’t mention Dr Wee, he made the remark after the Transport Minister challenged Lim Guan Eng to debate about the cabotage policy.
On Sunday, the shipping industry which included Malaysia Shipowners’ Association (MASA) and five other shipowners’ and maritime associations have defended Dr. Wee Ka Siong and issued a statement to object to the cabbage IQ remarks. MASA Chairman Dato’ Ir. Abdul Hak Md. Amin said Dr Rais who holds the highest position in a prominent GLC should be removed for uttering such words. He added, “As professionals, we may differ in opinions but we don’t go on personal attack”.
Dr Wee said the data centre was built in Singapore because Malaysia lacked the appropriate data centre infrastructure. 🤦🏻♂️ Do you know how many data centres are here in Malaysia since mid 90s ? Check the facts first @weekasiongmp ! Please ! https://t.co/7cA1J8Yrmb— Dr. Rais Hussin (@raishussin) April 5, 2021
Rais had also criticised the Transport Minister early this year for saying that Malaysia was bypassed by tech giants because it lacked data centre infrastructure.
The cabotage issue started after Dr Wee revoked the exemption in November last year. The cabotage exemption for submarine cable repair was introduced during the Pakatan Harapan administration in April 2019 with support from the Ministry of Communications and Multimedia. Global tech giants such as Amazon Web Services, Facebook, Google and Microsoft have written to Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob to reinstate the cabotage exemption immediately so that repairs for undersea cables can be carried out quickly to minimise the impact of cable disruption.