Bangi MP Dr Ong Kian Ming has released a statement to fact check points presented by Transport Minister Datuk Dr Wee Ka Siong during the live debate on the cabotage policy for submarine cable repairs. On Tuesday, Dr Wee said NTT is the owner of the Apricot cable and had shared several video recordings of Mr Yoshio Sato who was shown to be the Vice President of NTT Ltd Japan.
Apricot ownership and Yoshio Sato’s current position
During the debate which was aired on Astro Awani, the Transport Minister said NTT is the owner of the Apricot project, however, Dr Ong said they are just one of the shareholders and claims that Dr Wee was trying to give the impression that NTT is the sole owner of the cable. The Apricot subsea cable is constructed by a consortium that also consists of Google and Facebook as well as the Philippines’ PLDT, and Taiwan’s Chunghwa.
The DAP MP also raises concerns about the current position of Mr Yoshio Sato who was referred to repeatedly by Dr Wee to back up his claims. Apparently, Mr Sato is no longer an employee of NTT and Dr Ong said he has left to set up a new Singapore-registered company called Orient Link Pte Ltd. Dr Ong said while he does not doubt that Mr Sato had worked on the Apricot project during his tenure with NTT, he cannot speak behalf of the company especially about the future investments in the region as he is no longer with the company.
This also puts a huge question mark on the new Intra-Asia Express Cable that was supposedly planned to land in Kuching, Sarawak and West Malaysia. Dr Ong said since Mr Sato is not working with NTT, this cannot be considered at this moment as an official NTT project.
The MP also highlighted concerns when Mr Sato asked Dr Wee “I need your big help for this project” and asked if this is another case of “I help you, you help me”?
Potential conflict of interest?
Dr Ong shared that Orient Link Pte Ltd is described as a strategic joint venture company led by NTT Group and established with partners of Fund Corporation for the Overseas Development of Japan’s ICT and Postal Services Inc. (JICT) and WEN Capital Pte. Ltd. (WEN). In one of their press releases, it is mentioned that the director of Wen Capital is Mr Lim Soon Foo, who is currently listed as the executive chairman and founder of OMS Group. Dr Ong claimed that at the time of writing, OMS Group is the only beneficiary of the cabotage policy as Dr Wee claims that the company had recently purchased a DP2 ship.
Given the links of the directors, Dr Ong questioned if Mr Sato is able to speak independently on his views on the cabotage policy when one of his company’s directors is also the main beneficiary of the policy.
Questions on DP2 repair ships in Malaysia
Rebutting claims that Malaysia does not have the required DP2 ships to carry out undersea cable repairs, Dr Wee Ka Siong said during the debate that OMS group had purchased a Lodbrog ship that has DP2 capability. However, Dr Ong Kian Ming said the specs on the OMS group website indicated that Lodbrog is a DYNAPOS AM/AT type ship which means that it has DP1 or DP(AM) capabilities.
The MP provided the classification of Dynamic Position Systems (DPS) which indicates that a DP1 vessel is listed as DP(AM), while a DP2 vessel is listed as DP(AA) which uses two independent computer systems.
He gave a comparison with ASEAN Explorer, a DP2 cable laying and repair ship that’s owned by ASEAN Cableship Pte Ltd, a company in which Telekom Malaysia is a 16.7% shareholder. According to the spec sheet, the ASEAN Explorer has DP2(AA).
As mentioned by Dr Wee Ka Siong during the debate, Malaysia has approved 12 domestic shipping licence applications for ASEAN Cableship vessels to enter Malaysian waters since 11th November 2020.
Dr. Ong said if Lodbrog has the DP2 capability as claimed, why not the Transport Minister show the number of times the ship was used to carry out repairs in Malaysian waters after the cabotage policy exemption was revoked. He said surely the ship would have been given opportunities to conduct undersea cable repairs if it is Malaysian registered.
[ IMAGE SOURCE ]