Tesla and Starlink Internet Services, were granted permission to operate as fully foreign-owned enterprises in Malaysia, with the decision made based on the potential benefits they could bring to the nation, according to Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.
"The exemption allowing Starlink to operate as a 100% foreign-owned entity was granted by the Communications and Digital Ministry, in cooperation with the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), to offer satellite internet services to Malaysian users," the Prime Minister stated in a written parliamentary response dated October 31.
Starlink Malaysia secured licenses for Network Facilities Providers (NFP) (I) and Network Services Provider (NSP) (I) on July 17, 2023, and these licenses will remain valid for a decade.
Anwar explained that, as per the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 (Act 588), the foreign equity holding of NFP(I) and NSP(I) license holders is typically limited to 49%, which is a specific requirement for these licenses.
Furthermore, the Communications and Multimedia Minister possesses the authority to grant license holders the privilege of maintaining 100% foreign equity based on the recommendations and assessments of the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC). An exemption for 100% foreign ownership was sought by Starlink.
Regarding Tesla, this decision aligns with the government's policy, allowing 100% foreign ownership for new projects, expansions, and diversification in the manufacturing sector, whether by existing or new companies. Tesla Sdn Bhd, the Malaysian branch of the renowned American electric vehicle (EV) manufacturer Tesla Inc., officially commenced its operations in Malaysia on July 20.
Anwar provided this response in reply to a question from Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin (PN-Larut), who sought clarification on why the government did not enforce local equity holding requirements and why these two companies were granted exemptions in what may appear to be a "liberal" approach.
In an announcement made on July 20, Communications and Digital Minister Fahmi Fadzil revealed that Malaysia issued the license enabling Starlink to offer internet services locally. This marked Malaysia as the 60th country to be covered by the satellite constellation owned by Elon Musk.
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