By Dzulkifli Abdul Razak
Barely six months ago, the name of Elon Musk appeared in many Malaysia media portals following the Prime Minister meeting with the billionaire tech mogul about investing in Malaysia.
It included providing a solution to the country’s long-standing electronic communication woes. In July, the Prime Minister said he discussed the launch of electric car, Tesla, in Malaysia and the satellite internet service Starlink as an outcome to the 25-minute virtual meeting with Musk.
His “willingness to come to Malaysia” was hyped up as to how Starlink could provide faster and more widespread internet services in Malaysia, particularly in rural areas, through the participation of SpaceX in providing the satellite service.
Starlink has been described as a satellite constellation system that aims to deliver global internet coverage, an “initiative [that] will increase the ability and well-being of the people, especially from the aspect of education and the potential of agricultural technology and income generation,” it was claimed.
Allegedly, it required minimal physical infrastructure and land to improve the global internet network. Whereas, Tesla was said to be making an early entrance with its models to go on sale in Malaysia “from July 20, after authorities earlier approved the company’s application to import vehicles.”
To this Tesla affirmed that its Model Y car is now available to order in the country. It said that the first delivery of the car was likely to be early next year and priced from RM199,000 (US$44,000).
The collaboration between Malaysia and Tesla, however, is not limited to the electric vehicle (EV) sector alone, but other [unspecified] sectors as well. Indeed, a walk-in recruitment day in Cyberjaya was also held for several positions.
Since then, the Elon Musk story has kept somewhat low-profile with the assurance that all is going well according to the Grand Plan.
Be that as it may, when Elon Musk made the headlines again of late, he drew several negative reactions with many eye-brows raised.
Apparently, he was blasted during his recent visit to Israel and “is facing accusations of antisemitism” and “white genocide.”
On this issue, Musk was quoted to respond “in characteristically unwise fashion in a public interview, telling businesses to go f##k yourself” and insisted not to advertise on the social network formerly named Twitter, now X.
During the visit too, he met with the Israeli Prime Minister and the President in addition to the families of Israeli hostages taken by Hamas.
Touring an Israeli kibbutz where civilians were murdered on Oct. 7 during attacks, he saw footage of the incidents, where 1,200 people died and 240 were taken hostage, including footage from bodycams.
The Israeli President was reported to have told Elon Musk he has “an important role” in preventing antisemitism, which both he and his social media platform X have been accused of promoting, including by the White House!
In a brief live-streamed conversation on X, Musk seemed to have agreed with Israel Prime Minister that the only way to obtain peace and security was to destroy Hamas. “You first have to get rid of the poisonous regime as you did in Germany, as you did in Japan” was suggested, to which Musk replied: “There’s no choice. There’s no choice.”
The trip also sealed agreement over Starlink, the same satellite internet service that Malaysia is keen to have! However, Starlink is only limited to Israel, and Gaza needs additional approval of the Israeli government since according to Israel’s communication is “vital”, despite Gaza experiencing massive internet disruption and outages due to Israel intensified military operations.
In fact, Musk’s initial suggestion to give Starlink to major aid organisations in the Gaza territory was met with disapproval by Israel, arguing that it “would be used by Hamas.”
A sharp departure from the initial intention to enhance communications in Gaza via Starlink to mitigate the many telecommunications blackouts. To top it all, Musk even turned down an invitation by a senior Hamas official to visit Gaza so as to compare with what he witnessed in Israel, given the aftermath of Israeli attacks on the Palestinian enclave.
He cited “the current risks” – a clear testimony of the ruthlessness brought about by more than 40,000 tonnes of explosives that were disposed on the homes of defenseless Gazans in less than two months – although he still declare his commitment to do whatever was necessary to stop the spread of hatred.
Summarily, all these new development inevitably raised many more new searching questions as to who Elon Musk is, and how reliable are his words in the face of the Prime Minister’s adamant stand with Palestinian stance? Or even vice-versa? – BACALAHMALAYSIA.MY
- The writer is Rector, International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM)