Malaysia’s second chance at digital economy

According to The Edge Markets, Malaysia has a second chance of becoming the global hub at the forefront of digital economy with Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad’s return as the nation’s prime minister, according to Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali, the minister of Economic Affairs.

Azmin Ali reminded the crowd in his speech during the launch of the World Bank’s 18th edition of the Malaysia Economic Monitor that the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) was first mooted and expressed by Mahathir back in 1996, which envisaged the creation of special economic zone and high-tech business district.

“It was intended to leapfrog Malaysia into the 21st century and become the global hub at the forefront of the digital economy,” Azmin said.

He highlighted that the recent opening of Chinese conglomerate Alibaba Group’s first country officer in the South East Asia last month, is significant and a strategic stance to take Malaysia into the next level. Jack Ma, Alibaba’s co-founder, has said that his inspiration to start Alibaba came from the MSC.

“This will be a boost to the Digital Free Trade Zone (DFTZ) and with nearly 2,000 entrepreneurs registered, the export value of SMEs can potentially increase to US$38 billion, with the creation of 60,000 jobs by 2025,” he noted on the impact from the DFTZ.

It is important to push for the digital economy, as it is the single most important driver of innovation, competitiveness, and growth, he added.

“It holds huge potentials for our SMEs. However, only 62 percent of businesses are connected to the internet and only 28 percent have a web presence. Therefore, various efforts are being undertaken to encourage this utilization of digital platforms,” Azmin Ali said, highlighting the low utilization of digital platforms, despite that the proportion of its population with digital access has increased from around 51 percent in 2006 to more than 80 percent at present.