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15 June 2021 will mark my one-year tenure as Chairman of the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC). It has been 12 months of deliberate actions as the MDEC senior management and I embarked on our ‘Reinvent’ mission to ensure MDEC’s relevance in today’s social and economic landscape, as we lead our nation’s digital transformation and Malaysia 5.0 agenda. It is a journey towards developing a nation that is deeply integrated with technology, providing equitable digital opportunities to the people and businesses.

People are the heart of any organisation and I am truly blessed that MDEC is staffed with talents who possess not only incredible work ethics but also the wherewithal to embark on a journey of change and running the race together. The Reinvent mission has been crucial as we holistically transform ourselves to lead the nation’s digital leap into 4IR and drive high impact outcomes as envisaged in the MyDIGITAL blueprint.

We have chosen the ‘logical path’, taking us through four phases over the past twelve months. Allow me to share the journey with you.

Phase One:
Under Phase One which took place from June 2020 to September 2020, started with the big picture, where the objective was to understand the existing practices, culture and sentiments of MDEC as well as identifying the stumbling blocks that prevented MDEC from realising its full potential in implementing its mandate, and identifying factors that should be raised well above the industry’s standard. Time and effort were invested to conduct qualitative and quantitative studies to identify improvement opportunities in leading the digital economy whilst leveraging on opportunities and challenges as well as identifying the gaps that required further concrete and strategic actions to chart our future.

Stakeholder engagement was another key agenda under Phase 1 where I reached out to both MDEC’s team members as well as external parties such as government officials and foreign ambassadors as well as strategic groups within the targeted industries, gaining invaluable insights on how we can, together, place Malaysia truly as the Heart of Digital ASEAN. A total of 623 emails were received from every strata of society on suggestions to strengthen the role of MDEC and I had attended to these emails. From the myriad of interactions, one thing was clear – transformation was needed and it was needed, fast.

Together with our CEO, Surina Shukri and the Senior Leadership Team (in which the name was changed to Management Operating Council (“MOC’) in February 2021), we moved into Phase Two of the “Reinvent” mission, which commenced in September 2020, with an aim to set the foundation for transformation of MDEC, from three main aspects – People, Process and Structure of MDEC. The stage was set to clearly communicate the refreshed tone – Transformation was necessary and Changes were imminent.

In line with the overriding objective to transform and strengthen the overall governance and management model of MDEC whilst bolstering the existing culture and operations, we sought to recalibrate and broaden the Board of Directors with the appointment of industry trailblazers entrusted to guide MDEC through the complex and fluid concept of digital economy as well as appointment of experienced technocrats to our senior leadership line-up, to spearhead the management of MDEC.

The second major initiative was to conduct a holistic governance review aided by relevant professional entities, who were familiar with Governance transformation in ensuring that the impact and outcome of every initiative is clear and that public funds are properly accounted for with greater responsibility and transparency. The results of the review highlighted improvement areas in both governance and controls in key areas of MDEC that required prompt action stemming from oversight of the role of the Board, the Board Committees, Steering Committees and Special Committees established for specific purposes (such as Grant Management) to the organisation structure where issues such as over empowering certain functions leading to lack of independence and “silo mentality” amongst team members were noted, and to a certain extent, strategic decisions were not endorsed by the Board. As a result, a restructuring exercise was conducted with the establishment of five (5) distinct pillars, two (2) new dedicated Board Committees overseeing governance and technology related matters and Management Operation Council (“MOC”) to streamline the approval and reporting process whilst providing the Board with visibility on key financial and operational matters.

Phase Two:
Phase Two also saw the introduction of the Malaysia 5.0 agenda, curated based on Japan’s Society 5.0 model. Under this agenda, we sought to transform Malaysia into a nation that is deeply integrated with technology, governed by inclusive and equitable eco-vironmental principles and practices. Malaysia 5.0 will encourage growth and progress for all, enable deep integration of 4IR technologies at every level of society and seek to transform and reform the national education system to address the demands of the digital future.

Arising from the observations noted from the holistic Governance review, we realised that MDEC carried an inherent risk of the perception that the digital grant provided by Government of Malaysia was not fairly distributed to those who were really qualified and in need. The process of due diligence, independent checking, evaluation and approval had to be tightened to enhance public trust and honour the faith that is placed in MDEC. Unfortunately, there were cases where grants had been abused due to internal weakness in the evaluation and approval process, leading to a number of investigations carried out. Where necessary, the grant was immediately stopped and remediating controls were put in place to prevent similar cases from happening again in the future. Recouping measures to recover the funds were actioned upon; including reporting to the relevant authority and taking legal actions.

Phase Three:
With the gaps identified and roadmap towards improvement determined, we moved into Phase Three, in January up to March of 2021.

One of the key achievements under Phase Three was the signing of the MACC Corruption-Free Pledge by all employees of MDEC, demonstrating the organisation’s strong commitment towards a transparent and honest regime, further enhanced with the onboarding of a Certified Integrity Officer from MACC.

MDEC witnessed the first tangible improvement with the implementation of Discretionary Authority Limits (“DAL”), a total overhaul of the previous Limit of Authority (“LOA”). The DAL reset the overarching framework for approval in MDEC by clearly defining the hierarchy and reporting line, promulgating clear accountability and taking away the authority previously given to certain key designation leading to systemic control breakdown, pivoting the decision making back to fundamental body, the Board.

One of the salient features of this DAL was to ensure that there were reporting lines to the division’s Head, CEO, MOC and Board of Directors, eliminating the issue of “silos” within MDEC. To institutionalise the DAL, townhall sessions and roadshows were conducted, where the CEO and I both embarked on an internal meet-and-engage with all 467 amazing team members of MDEC to ensure they are properly briefed as well as to gather their feedback and buy-in to what we want to achieve – an agency institutionalised with the highest level of professionalism, radical transparency, integrity and performance.

The DAL was a ‘reconciliation exercise’ to ensure the Board is given due recognition in understanding, appraising and approving strategic, financial and operational activities until a period where the ‘silo mentality’ amongst the division had been institutionally abolished by the new DAL. There were mainly two main actors in the approval process, the Board or the MOC (for RM500,000 and below). Some clusters did not welcome the new DAL as they were no longer given the empowerment to solely make decisions for MDEC, or the value of their approving authority had been reduced to minimal.

Phase 4:
We are currently at Phase Four of our Reinvent mission, where now the focus is on executing our mandate to meet the objectives under MyDIGITAL, ensuring the digital economy benefits the many.

To further streamline our strategy, four key thrusts have been identified: – New skills, Adoption, Disruptors and Investments, in short, N.A.D.I. These will drive our core programmes for the Rakyat, businesses and investments such as the #SayaDigital Movement, our overarching programme on digital outreach and development for citizens and businesses in Malaysia.

Further to our positioning of Malaysia, Heart of DIGITAL ASEAN (“MHODA”), we have announced the Digital Investment Office (“DIO”) with MIDA to further streamline and land quality investments. The Prime Minister, through the National Council of Digital Economy and 4IR (“MED4IR”), recently endorsed the National eCommerce Strategic Roadmap (“NESR”) 2.0, of which MDEC has been entrusted to lead the Project Management Office with the mandate to oversee its successful implementation.

Realising and making full use of 4IR technologies are also at the forefront of our initiatives. We are beginning to see promising development of this in our pilot project in the field of Agtech via our eLadang programme. Farmers involved are already reaping up to 20 percent increase in yield quality and quantity as well as income. We have embarked on our partnership with CIMB Islamic to support the farmers to implement IoT technology and reap the fruits of digitalisation. This is a first step in our collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Industries (MAFI) in our bid to ensure our nation’s food security and sovereignty.

The pandemic has brought changes and challenges, some opine even ruin. But as Rumi, the 13th century Persian poet said; “Where there is ruin, there is hope for a treasure.” MDEC’s digital mandate has been brought into a sharp focus as a result of the global pandemic, requiring a paradigm shift in the digital economy and organisation wide changes to support it. Whilst change is not the problem, it is the resistance to the change that is the problem. Thus, whilst MDEC acknowledges, accepts and adopts the need for this transformative journey, it is only with a fresh mindset, one that is open to experimenting, innovating and being agile while emphasising radical transparency and integrity, that the desired results can be achieved.
I am an eternal optimist and I embrace the mandate entrusted to MDEC to guide all Malaysians to the key of the treasure – digitalisation of our beloved Malaysia.

Tanggal 15 Jun 2021 menandakan genap tempoh satu tahun saya sebagai Pengerusi Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC). Masa pantas berlalu apabila sudah menjangkau 12 bulan agensi ini memulakan misi ‘Reinvent’ (Mencipta Semula) untuk memastikan kesesuaian MDEC dalam landskap sosial dan ekonomi hari ini. Seterusnya akan menjadi pendorong utama dalam memacu transformasi digital negara ke arah matlamat Malaysia 5.0. Ini merupakan perjalanan untuk mewujudkan negara yang sangat terintegrasi dengan teknologi, memberikan peluang digital yang adil kepada rakyat dan perniagaan.

Modal insan merupakan nadi utama kepada organisasi di mana sahaja dan saya sangat ‘beruntung’ kerana MDEC dibarisi oleh bakat-bakat yang tidak hanya mempunyai etika kerja yang luar biasa tetapi juga memiliki asas yang diperlukan untuk memulakan perjalanan dan perubahan. Misi ‘Mencipta Semula’ sangat penting kerana kita secara holistik mengubah diri untuk memimpin lonjakan digital negara ke arah 4IR dan mendorong hasil berimpak tinggi seperti yang dibayangkan dalam Rangka Tindakan Ekonomi Digital Malaysia (MyDIGITAL).

MDEC telah memilih ‘jalan yang logik’ untuk membawa agensi melalui empat fasa sejak setahun yang lalu. Izinkan saya berkongsi perjalanan ini dengan anda.

Fasa Satu:
Menerusi tempoh ini yang bermula dari Jun hingga September 2020, objektifnya bermula dengan gambaran yang meluas iaitu bagi memahami amalan, budaya dan sentimen sedia ada MDEC serta mengenal pasti halangan untuk merealisasikan potensi penuh yang dimiliki ketika melaksanakan mandatnya. Pada masa sama, terdapat faktor-faktor yang harus ditingkatkan melebihi standard industri juga dikenalpasti. Masa dan usaha ‘dilaburkan’ untuk melaksanakan kajian kualitatif dan kuantitatif untuk mengenal pasti peluang peningkatan dalam memimpin ekonomi digital sambil memanfaatkan peluang dan cabaran serta mengenal pasti jurang yang memerlukan tindakan konkrit dan strategi lebih lanjut untuk memacu masa depan kita.

Penglibatan pihak berkepentingan turut menjadi agenda pada fasa pertama. Saya menghubungi ahli pasukan MDEC serta pihak luar seperti pegawai kerajaan dan duta asing serta kumpulan strategik dalam industri sasaran untuk mendapatkan pandangan berharga bagaimana kita dapat bersama-sama untuk menempatkan Malaysia sebagai Nadi Digital ASEAN. Sebanyak 623 emel diterima dari setiap lapisan masyarakat mengenai cadangan untuk memperkukuhkan peranan MDEC. Menerusi perbincangan yang aktif ini, satu perkara jelas difahami iaitu transformasi diperlukan dengan cepat.

Bersama -sama dengan Ketua Pegawai Eksekutif, Surina Shukri, pasukan kepemimpinan kanan (nama kemudian diubah menjadi Majlis Operasi MDEC (MOC) pada Februari 2021), kami bergerak ke fasa kedua misi “Mencipta Semula” yang bermula pada September 2020 dengan tujuan untuk menetapkan hala tuju transformasi MDEC yang melibatkan tiga aspek utama iaitu modal insan, proses dan struktur.Langkah diatur untuk menyampaikan idea segar iaitu transformasi diperlukan dan perubahan sedang menghampiri.

Sejajar dengan objektif utama untuk mengubah dan memperkuat keseluruhan model tadbir urus dan pengurusan MDEC sambil memperkemaskan budaya dan operasi sedia ada, kami berusaha untuk memperluas Lembaga Pengarah dengan melantik pemain industri yang berkaliber untuk membimbing MDEC mengharungi ekonomi digital yang kompleks dengan lancar. Selanjutnya terdapat juga pelantikan teknokrat berpengalaman untuk barisan kepimpinan kanan agensi ini untuk menerajui pengurusan MDEC.

Inisiatif utama yang seterusnya adalah melakukan tinjauan tadbir urus holistik yang dibantu oleh entiti profesional , relevan serta berpengalaman dengan transformasi tadbir urus dalam memastikan bahawa kesan dan hasil setiap intitatif adalah jelas. Selain itu, ia bagi memastikan dana awam digunakan dengan penuh tanggungjawab dan betul bagi mencapai ketelusan yang lebih tinggi. Hasil tinjauan tersebut mencadangkan aspek yang memerlukan penambahbaikan dalam urus tadbir dan kawalan di bidang utama MDEC yang memerlukan tindakan segera . Ia meliputi pengawasan terhadap perana Lembaga Pengarah, Jawatankuasa Lembaga, Jawatankuasa Pemandu dan Jawatankuasa Khas yang ditubuhkan untuk tujuan tertentu (seperti Pengurusan Geran) kepada struktur organisasi di mana isuisu seperti pemberdayaan fungsi tertentu yang menyebabkan kurangnya kebebasan dan “mentaliti silo” di kalangan anggota pasukan diberi perhatian. Pada tahap tertentu, keputusan strategik tidak disahkan oleh Lembaga Pengarah. Akibatnya, pelaksanaan penstrukturan dilakukan dengan penubuhan lima teras yang berbeza iaitu dua Jawatankuasa Lembaga khusus untuk mengawasi perkara -perkara yang berkaitan dengan pentadbiran dan teknologi. MOC pula untuk mengawasi proses persetujuan dan laporan sementara tanggungjawab kepada Lembaga Pengarah berkaitan hal-hal kewangan dan operasi utama.

Fasa Kedua:
Fasa dua pula memperlihatkan pengenalan agenda Malaysia 5.0, berdasarkan model Japan Society 5.0. Di bawah agenda ini, MDEC berusaha untuk mengubah Malaysia menjadi sebuah negara yang sangat terintegrasi dengan teknologi, yang ditadbir oleh prinsip dan amalan eko-lingkungan yang inklusif dan adil. Malaysia 5.0 akan mendorong pertumbuhan dan kemajuan untuk semua golongan rakyat dan seterusnya memungkinkan integrasi teknologi 4IR yang mendalam di setiap lapisan masyarakat dan berusaha untuk mengubah dan mentransformasikan sistem pendidikan negara untuk memenuhi tuntutan masa depan digital.

Berdasarkan saranan tinjauan tadbir urus yang holistik, saya menyedari bahawa MDEC mempunyai risiko terhadap persepsi bahawa peruntukan digital yang diberikan oleh kerajaan tidak diagihkan secara adil kepada mereka yang benar-benar berkelayakan dan memerlukan. Oleh itu, proses pemeriksaan, penilaian dan persetujuan bebas telah diperketat untuk meningkatkan kepercayaan masyarakat kepada MDEC. Namun demikian, terdapat beberapa kes pemberian dana telah disalahgunakan kerana
kelemahan dalaman membabitkan proses penilaian dan persetujuan yang menyebabkan penyelidikan dilakukan. Sekiranya perlu, pemberian dana akan segera dihentikan dan pemulihan dilakukan untuk mengelakkan kes serupa berulang dan langkah-langkah untuk mendapatkan kembali dana yang diambil dilaksanakan termasuk melaporkan kepada pihak berkuasa dan mengambil tindakan undangundang.

Fasa Tiga:
Berdasarkan jurang yang telah dikenalpasti dan rangka tindakan untuk mencapai hasil peningkatan disasarkan, MDEC beralih ke fasa tiga, bermula pada Januari hingga Mac 2021.

Salah satu pencapaian utama di bawah tempoh ini adalah menandatangani Ikrar Bebas Rasuah dengan Suruhanjaya Pencegahan Rasuah Malaysia (SPRM) yang melibatkan semua warga MDEC sekaligus menunjukkan komitmen kuat organisasi ini terhadap ketelusan dan kejujuran yang akan terus dipertingkatkan dengan adanya Pegawai Integriti Bertauliah dari SPRM .

MDEC menyaksikan peningkatan ketara dengan pelaksanaan Had Kuasa Budi Bicara (DAL) , keseluruhan penambahbaikan Surat Anugerah (LOA). DAL menetapkan semula kerangka yang menyeluruh untuk diluluskan MDEC yang dengan jelas mendefinisikan hierarki dan garis pelaporan, menetapkan tanggungjawab yang jelas dan melucutkan kuasa yang sebelumnya diberikan kepada ketua bahagian tertentu yang menyebabkan longgarnya kawalan. DAL mendorong kembali keputusan dibuat oleh badan asas iaitu Lembaga Pengarah.

Salah satu ciri penting DAL ialah untuk memastikan terdapat garis pelaporan kepada Pengerusi, Ketua Pegawai Eksekutif, MOC dan Ahli Lembaga Pengarah bagi mengatasi masalah “silo” dalam agensi. Untuk melembagakan DAL, sesi townhall dan roadshow dijalankan di mana saya telah memulakan perjumpaan dalaman dan bertemu kesemua 467 kakitangan MDEC untuk memastikan mereka diberi penerangan jelas serta mengumpulkan maklum balas mengenai apa yang ingin dicapai agensi yang dilembagakan dengan tahap profesionalisme, integriti dan prestasi tertinggi.

DAL menjadi ‘latihan pendamaian’ untuk memastikan Lembaga Pengarah diberi kefahaman untuk menilai dan bersetuju terhadap aktiviti strategik, kewangan dan operasi sehingga budaya silo yang wujud di bahagian tersebut diubah. Terdapat dua pihak utama dalam proses kelulusan iaitu Lembaga Pengarah atau MOC (bagi keputusan melibatkan nilai RM500,000 ke bawah). Beberapa ‘kluster’ tidak mengalu-alukan DAL kerana tidak lagi berkuasa untuk membuat keputusan atau peranan telah dikurangkan.

Fasa 4:
MDEC kini berada di Fasa Empat misi Mencipta Semula yang mana fokusnya adalah melaksanakan amanah untuk memenuhi objektif di bawah MyDIGITAL dengan memastikan ekonomi digital memberi pelbagai manfaat kepada rakyat.

Untuk memperkemaskan strategi ini, empat teras utama telah dikenal pasti iaitu Kemahiran Baharu, Penerimagunaan , Pengganggu dan Pelaburan atau singkatnya N.A.D.I. ( New Skills, Adoption, Disruptors dan Investment). Ini akan mendorong program teras MDEC untuk rakyat, perniagaan dan
pelaburan seperti Gerakan #SayaDigital iaitu program utama mengenai jangkauan digital dan pembangunan untuk rakyat dan perniagaan di Malaysia.

Memandang lebih jauh cita -cita Malaysia untuk menjadi Nadi Digital ASEAN, MDEC telah mengumumkan penubuhan Pejabat Pelaburan Digital (DIO) bersama Lembaga Pembangunan Pelaburan Malaysia (MIDA) untuk memperkemaskan dan meningkatkan kualiti pelaburan tempatan.
YAB Perdana Menteri, melalui Majlis Ekonomi Digital dan Revolusi Perindustrian Keempat (4IR) barubaru ini mengesahkan Pelan Halatuju Strategik e- Dagang 2.0 (NESR 2.0) dengan MDEC telah diamanahkan untuk memimpin Pejabat Pengurusan Projek dengan mandat untuk mengawasi kejayaan pelaksanaannya.

Menyedari dan memanfaatkan sepenuhnya teknologi 4IR juga merupakan inisiatif masa hadapan agensi ini. MDEC mula melihat perkembangan dalam projek perintis di bidang pertanian melalui program eLadang. Petani yang terlibat telah memperoleh peningkatan sehingga 20 peratus melibatkan kualiti , kuantiti serta hasil pendapatan. MDEC bekerjasama dengan CIMB Islamic untuk menyokong para petani menerapkan teknologi internet kebendaan (IoT) dan mula menuai hasil berdasarkan pendigitalan. Ini merupakan langkah pertama melibatkan kerjasama MDEC dengan Kementerian Pertanian dan Industri Makanan (MAFI) dalam usaha untuk memastikan keselamatan dan kedaulatan makanan negara kita.

Pandemik telah membawa perubahan dan cabaran malahan ada yang berpendapat ia menyebabkan ‘kemusnahan’. Namun seperti kata penyair Parsi abad ke-13, Rumi; “Di mana terdapat kehancuran, di situ wujud juga harapan untuk menemui harta karun.” Oleh itu, mandat digital MDEC hari ini telah menjadi fokus yang sangat diperlukan sebagai akibat pandemik global, yang memerlukan peralihan paradigma dalam ekonomi digital dan perubahan organisasi secara menyeluruh untuk menyokongnya. Walaupun perubahan bukanlah masalahnya, tetapi penentangan terhadap perubahan merupakan isunya. Oleh itu, MDEC mengakui dan menerima hakikat perlunya perjalanan transformatif ini yang hanya boleh dilaksanakan dengan idea segar, terbuka untuk bereksperimen, berinovasi dan menekankan integriti untuk mencapai hasil yang diinginkan.

Saya kekal optimis dalam memikul amanah MDEC untuk membimbing rakyat Malaysia ke arah kunci kejayaan -pendigitalan negara tercinta ini.

4IR TOWARDS NATIONAL FOOD SECURITY / 4IR Ke Arah Keselamatan Makanan Negara

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The domain of national food security is a key pillar in the overall strategy of national development due to its reciprocal relationships with other socio-economic fields. An effective national food security strategy will create availability and affordability, and therefore help save on household expenses. On the government side, most of the country’s allocations can be channeled to other deserving sectors.

We understand that one of the unique features of the Industrial Revolution 4.0 (4IR) is the achievable efficiencies for the entire industry. The agricultural industry is among the sectors that will benefit greatly
from 4IR. Through the power of 4IR, the agricultiural industry will manage and provide food security assurance to people in a more organised manner while reducing the pressure on various resources.

Some aspects of technology have now become commonplace in the agricultural sector and has evolved in a short period due to the incoming updates to 4IR technology. This has caused difficulties in adapting, among in early generation farmers as they had already been accustomed to traditional farming methods including having extensive farms and utilising high levels of labor.

4IR is regarded an urgency for food safety. Therefore, it is not surprising that leading countries in the field of food security such as Finland, Ireland, the Netherlands, Germany, Japan, Singapore and South Korea have long increased their technological capabilities to serve their people through their respective versions of “Society 5.0”. This includes the ability to provide food sources to its people.

A more detailed analysis of leading countries through Global Food Security shows that they have focused on improving agricultural and food technology. They prioritise high – tech agriculture, engineering capabilities and economic principles, establishing them as the pillars of the national food security strategy in their respective countries.

Among the trends in the country involved in this sector is making food security a top priority by the administration, the provision of large investments in agricultural technology research and development,
as well as a special focus on small farmers and local agricultural technology entrepreneurs through innovative funding, incentive schemes and extensive e-commerce networking.

In this regard, having a clear national food safety strategy is one of the most important requirements for all other food safety elements to be properly integrated.

Recognising that food security is a national issue requiring breadth and depth in solutions instead of just a simple introduction of new regulations, the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) has a proven concept in the agricultural sector. MDEC pilot deployment of 4IR agri-tech was highly successful in various agricultural activities such as smart fertigation, smart misting, smart aquaculture, smart poultry, smart irrigation and smart soil monitoring. It has been observed that agtech helped increased the productivity, quality and income of small farmers by over 20 percent. Numerous farmers enjoy higher incomes and have successfully brought their produce to market.

Putting the agenda on a high pedestal results in a “whole-of-government strategy” where there is a concerted effort across all agencies and ministries. There is no unhealthy competition; all actors and players in the food security ecosystem can work together. Such concerted effort will result in effective policy implementation, creating an entire ecosystem of support including various players such as producers, academia and industry R&D, policy makers and even consumers.

History has demonstrated how other countries look at the current situation and how they have taken important steps to ensure their national food security while Malaysia has achieved a zero score in food safety indicators and policies under the Global Food Safety Index (GFSI) 2020. Therefore, it is time to have a holistic approach and strategy by the government to make food security a top priority.

Results from MDEC’s Digital Agtech pilot projects have showcased the viability of digital technologies and automation in agriculture. However, there is room for even more technological improvement. We can go beyond Industry 4.0’s version of agri-tech, and into “agtech 5.0” which is also envisioned under Malaysia 5.0, inspired by Japan’s Society 5.0. Malaysia 5.0’s vision is to create a society that is highly integrated with technology, as well as to be governed by inclusive and equitable eco-vironmental principles and practices.

In the near future, innovative fintech and trading platform such as blockchain-based peer-to-peer (p2p) marketplace platform may be considered to support small farmers by minimising the role of the middlemen (if not cut out entirely) and ensure best values for the consumers and better margins for the farmers.

Similar technologies should be applied to other crops in Malaysia, rice in particular. Despite being a major rice consumer, Malaysia is only producing roughly 70 per cent of the total demand internally, while the remaining are imported. In fact, its self-sufficiency level dropped slightly from 70 per cent in 2018, to 69 per cent in 2019. A global crisis such as Covid-19 pandemic has shown Malaysia’s vulnerability in food security when trade activities are halted, depriving Malaysia from its staple food.

Thus, in addition to transcending the current notion of food security (achieved via imports supplementation) to actual self-sufficiency (at least for staple foods, major livestocks and aquaculture; for obvious national security reasons), there is existing and sizeable captive market with an upward trend to be capitalised on and technological advancement is the only way forward towards food safety, security and soverignty. The time to act on this is now.

Bidang keselamatan makanan nasional merupakan tonggak yang sangat penting dalam strategi keseluruhan pembangunan negara melalui hubungan timbal balik dengan bidang sosio ekonomi yang lain. Strategi keselamatan makanan negara yang berkesan akan mewujudkan ketersediaan dan kemampuan, seterusnya dapat menjimatkan perbelanjaan keseluruhan isi rumah. Di pihak kerajaan pula, sebahagian besar peruntukan negara boleh disalurkan kepada sektor lain yang lebih memerlukan.

Kita memahami bahawa salah satu ciri unik Revolusi Perindustrian 4.0 (4IR) adalah kecekapan yang dapat dicapai membabitkan seluruh industri. Industri pertanian adalah antara sektor yang akan mendapat manfaat besar dari 4IR. Menerusi ‘kuasa’ 4IR, ia mampu menguruskan isu keselamatan dan jaminan makanan kepada rakyat dengan lebih tersusun serta mengurangkan tekanan terhadap sumber yang dimiliki.

Beberapa ciri teknologi kini telah menjadi kebiasaanya yang digunakan dalam sektor pertanian malah boleh dikatakan ia telah diubah dalam tempoh yang singkat oleh teknologi 4IR. Ini menyebabkan para petani generasi awal berdepan kesukaran untuk membiasakan diri memandangkan mereka sudah terbiasa dengan kaedah pertanian tradisional seperti ladang yang luas dan menggunakan tenaga buruh yang ramai.

4IR boleh dilihat sebagai keperluan mendesak untuk keselamatan makanan. Oleh hal yang demikian, maka tidaklah menghairankan apabila negara-negara yang terkedepan dalam bidang food security seperti Finland, Ireland, Belanda, Jerman, Jepun, Singapura dan Korea Selatan telah lama meningkatkan keupayaan teknologi untuk berkhidmat kepada rakyatnya menerusi “Society 5.0” versi masing – masing. Ini merangkumi kemampuan untuk menyediakan sumber makanan kepada rakyatnya.

Analisis yang lebih terperinci membabitkan negara-negara terkemuka ini menerusi Indeks Keselamatan Makanan Sedunia (GFSI) atau Global Food Security Index menunjukkan bahawa kumpulan ini menumpukan usaha untuk meningkatkan teknologi pertanian dan makanan dengan memberi keutamaan terhadap pertanian berteknologi tinggi, kemampuan kejuruteraan dan prinsip ekonomi sebagai tonggak strategi keselamatan makanan nasional.

Antara trend lain di negara berkenaan membabitkan sektor ini termasuklah menjadikan keselamatan makanan sebagai keutamaan paling penting oleh pentadbiran serta membuat pelaburan besar dalam penyelidikan dan pembangunan teknologi pertanian dan memberi tumpuan tumpuan khusus kepada petani kecil dan pengusaha teknologi pertanian tempatan melalui pembiayaan inovatif, skim insentif dan menghubungkan dengan rangkaian e-dagang yang luas.

Sehubungan itu, memiliki strategi keselamatan makanan nasional yang jelas merupakan salah satu syarat yang paling penting agar semua elemen keselamatan makanan yang lain dapat disatukan dengan baik.

Menyedari keselamatan makanan merupakan isu nasional dan bukan sekadar peraturan yang diperkenalkan, Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) sebenarnya turut mempunyai konsep yang terbukti berkesan dalam sektor pertanian. Penerapan percubaan oleh MDEC terhadap teknologi pertanian 4IR sangat berjaya yang melibatkan pelbagai aktiviti pertanian seperti fertigasi pintar, penyemburan halus secara kabus pintar, akuakultur pintar, perternakan ayam pintar, pengairan pintar dan pemantauan tanah pintar. MDEC melihat teknologi pertanian ini telah meningkatkan produktiviti, kualiti dan pendapatan petani kecil lebih dari 20%. Sebilangan besar petani menikmati pendapatan yang lebih tinggi dan berjaya membawa hasil mereka ke pasaran.

Meletakkan agenda ini pada landasan yang tinggi akan menghasilkan “strategi keseluruhan kerajaan” (A whole-of-government strategy) membabitkan keupayaan bersama oleh semua kementerian dan agensi. Tidak wujud persaingan yang tidak sihat dan hanky panky kerana semua pemain dalam ekosistem keselamatan makanan bekerjasama. Usaha bersepadu ini menghasilkan penguatkuasaan peraturan yang berkesan, mewujudkan keseluruhan ekosistem termasuk sokongan oleh pengeluar, para akademik, bidang penyelidikan dan pembangunan, pembuat dasar dan juga pengguna.

Kita harus belajar dari sejarah negara lain serta melihat keadaan semasa. Negara-negara lain telah mengambil langkah penting untuk menjamin keselamatan makanan nasional mereka sementara Malaysia pula mencapai skor sifar dalam petunjuk keselamatan makanan dan dasar di bawah GFSI 2020. Oleh itu, sudah tiba waktunya untuk Malaysia mempunyai pendekatan menyeluruh dan strategi holistik oleh kerajaan bagi menjadikan keselamatan makanan sebagai keutamaan penting.

Hasil dari projek perintis Digital Agtech oleh MDEC telah memperlihatkan keupayaan teknologi digital dan automasi dalam pertanian. Walau bagaimanapun, masih ada ruang untuk peningkatan teknologi. Kita dapat melepasi versi agri-tech Industry 4.0 dan memasuki “agtech” yang juga dicadangkan di bawah Malaysia 5.0 yang diilhamkan berdasarkan Society 5.0 negara Jepun. Visi Malaysia 5.0 adalah untuk mewujudkan masyarakat yang sangat bersepadu dengan teknologi, ditabdir oleh prinsip dan amalan eco-vironmental yang inklusif dan adil.

Dalam masa terdekat, platform fintech dan perdagangan yang inovatif seperti platform pasar peer-to-peer (p2p) berasaskan blockchain boleh dipertimbangkan untuk menyokong petani kecil dengan meminimumkan peranan orang tengah (jika tidak dibanteras sepenuhnya) dan memastikan harga terbaik untuk pengguna dan margin yang lebih tinggi untuk petani.

Teknologi serupa harus digunakan untuk tanaman lain di Malaysia terutamanya padi. Walaupun kita merupakan pengguna beras utama, Malaysia hanya berupaya menghasilkan sekitar 70 peratus dari permintaan domestiknya manakala selebihnya diimport. Sebenarnya, tahap keupayaan pengeluaran beras negara telah menurun sedikit dari 70 peratus pada 2018 kepada 69 peratus pada 2019. Krisis global seperti pandemik Covid-19 telah menunjukkan negara kita rentan terhadap isu keselamatan makanan apabila aktiviti perdagangan makanan ruji ini turut tenganggu.

Oleh itu, selain menjangkaui gagasan keselamatan makanan (dicapai melalui suplemen import) kepada kepuasan diri sebenar (sekurang-kurangnya untuk makanan ruji, ternakan utama dan akuakultur untuk keselamatan negara yang jelas), terdapat pasaran dan trend yang cukup besar dan menaik yang akan digunakan. Kemajuan teknologi adalah cara yang tidak dapat dielakkan menuju ke hadapan. Sekarang masanya kita untuk bertindak ke arah food safety, food security and food sovereignty.

Cabotage policy – Let’s Get Clever

There are two strong opposing views on the issue of the cabotage policy impacting the undersea internet cable industry, and both seem to have a strong argument with good intention that requires clarity.

However, on balance, the view that exemption from the cabotage policy for the industry is the right thing to do, must be given precedence for the sake of making our country an attractive investment destination for digital infrastructure, especially in light of our aspirations set out in the MYDIGITAL Blueprint and to truly be the Heart of Digital ASEAN.

Let’s first discuss the view that the cabotage policy is detrimental in making Malaysia the choice for investment destination especially high value digital investment.

The Global Digital Economy runs on top of the Internet, a digital infrastructure that spans the globe, consisting of data centers to house all the data and optical fiber cables that move data around the world. The only way for global data connectivity to take place in this digital infrastructure is via crisscrossing cables under seas and oceans to reach every country, and hence they are called submarine cables.

They are essential strategic assets for countries to be part of the global digital infrastructure, as economic activities riding on the back of submarine cables include e-commerce, data transfer, financial transactions, business processing, digital exports, social interactions, services delivery and communications impacting national security.

An RTI International report in August 2020 on Economic Impacts of Submarine Fiber Optic Cables and Broadband Connectivity in Malaysia showed submarine cables landing had contributed to a 6.9% increase in GDP per capita and a 3.6% increase in employment in the services sector between 2008 and 2015.

Submarine cables are extremely expensive, require partners from different countries, and take three to four years from planning to be operational and ready for service. Maintenance of such cables is also an expensive affair and cable owners collaborate to share the costs.

Specialized ships, called submarine cable ships, are used to deploy the cable under the sea as well as maintain and repair these cables in case of breakage from earthquakes, storms or damage from ship anchors, mining and fishing. There are fewer than 60 such ships in the world today and therefore they have to be shared.

A cable ship is required to stay in one position at sea during a repair and is equipped with a Dynamic Positioning (DP) system consisting of thrusters and computer systems to precisely maintain its position without drifting, regardless of wind and sea conditions.

Depending on their capability to maintain their position accurately under different conditions such as weather, depth of the sea, ability for the ship to withstand equipment failure, flooding and fire, such ships are classified as:

  1. DP1 class ships – suitable for shallow water use with low risk of equipment failure but will have to abandon the repair job if any important equipment like the computer or thrusters fail, causing the ship to drift out of position.
  2. DP2 class ships – with a built-in redundancy such as two DP computer systems and multiple thrusters to maintain position accurately even after sustaining failure in one important system.
  3. DP3 class of ships – similar to DP2 class ships but can additionally handle a fire or flooding in one compartment.

Cable owners today require the use of DP2 class ships to minimize the risk of repair work being interrupted by equipment failure as well as prevent further damage to the cable, other cables or oil and gas pipelines nearby, when the ship drifted out of position.

Whenever there is a cable outage, the cable owner will immediately identify the nearest available ship capable of performing the repair as quickly as possible. However, very often the best available ship may not be registered, or flagged, by the country whose territorial waters lies in the area where the cable is located.

This is where the issue of cabotage, a law which protects the local shipping industry from foreign competition, becomes relevant. In Malaysia, our cabotage law prevents foreign ships from picking up passengers or cargo from, say Penang to Port Kelang.

Unlike countries like the USA, Taiwan and Philippines, Malaysian cabotage law also covers maritime services, which includes submarine cable deployment and repair, which means when the best ship available for a cable repair is a foreign ship, a Domestic Shipping License Exemption (DSLE) is required and before this can be issued, local ship owners are asked for their consent through the Malaysia Ship Owners Association (MASA). In fact, ship owners who think they can handle the repair job can block the issuance of the DSLE.

In the case of submarine cable repair, there is one Malaysian company in the business which has four cable ships and two barges for shallow water cable laying. All its vessels are DP1 class and this has been the key point of dispute resulting in long delays for arbitration as the cable owners want DP2 class vessels.

When Malaysia started to attract data centre investments, one of the key issues highlighted by both foreign investors was the long delays in obtaining permits for submarine cable repairs — prior to 2019 the average was 27 days with one case taking longer than 100 days.

Local telecom companies with submarine cable investments like Telekom Malaysia and Time DotCom also appealed to the Government to exempt submarine cable repairs from cabotage.

Hence, in April 2019, the then Minister of Transport, Anthony Loke issued an exemption order. This was positively received by investors and local telcos and plans were made to land cables in Malaysia.

However, in November 2020, the current Minister of Transport, Wee Ka Siong revoked the cabotage exemption for submarine cable repair, much to the surprise of investors and local telcos.

This reversal is a step backward, as investors have expressed strong interest and some were in the final stage of committing investments, recognising that the exemption will reduce repair times and increase reliability.

Hence, the industry is shocked by the abrupt decision on the reversal of cabotage exemption without meaningful stakeholders’ consultation to protect a single company. It creates risks to Malaysia’s critical digital infrastructure and growing digital economy by making it less attractive for infrastructure investment.

Now, let’s look at the arguments forwarded by the other side, which mainly rests on the critical need to develop local capabilities.

The occurrence of submarine cable faults in Malaysia is between six to nine annually in the past few years and this shows the real domestic market opportunities is not high enough to make it feasible to invest in DP2 or DP3 vessels.

Furthermore, there are other maritime services within Malaysian waters with larger market opportunities and lower entry cost that local players can participate and build up capabilities to compete.

More importantly, investors look for certainty and stability when they choose investment locations. Digital infrastructure investments such as data centres and submarine cables are hugely expensive and require multi-decade commitments.

When government policies impacting investors are arbitrarily changed without prior consultation, there is no certainty or stability that would provide assurance to the investors.

When the other side of the divide says the delay in repair works has already been reduced to 10 days, and thereby harping on cabotage exemption is a minor issue, it misses the point in the sense that it’s not so much the delay but the changing of policy wilfully without consulting the relevant stakeholders is the issue, as it strongly signals uncertainty and increased risk on the part of the investors. What if other policies change suddenly and arbitrarily?

The impact in the reversal of cabotage exemption is immediate – two new cables were announced by Facebook and Google to be landing in Singapore and Indonesia recently, both without any landing in Malaysia.

There are also strong industry sources indicating three new cables originally planned to be landing in Malaysia are now, “under review”. Also under review are potential data centre investments between RM12 to RM15 billion in FDI. Emerging from the pandemic, Malaysia needs such investments more than ever and in doing so, we cannot afford to play the same old, same old protectionist games.

Submarine fault occurrence in Malaysia in a year as mentioned above is small but for every minute of outage, there are huge economic, reputational and opportunity losses to Malaysia, as the outage can run into days, weeks or even months.

The longer the time it takes to repair the submarine cables, the longer we will be in the state of being digitally disconnect, thus depriving Malaysians from the basic fundamental right of modern-day utility, which is connectivity.

What is needed now is not only the restoration of the cabotage exemption immediately but also, in the longer term, the critical need to have the legislation amended to remove submarine cable activities from our definition of cabotage for the sake of attracting more investments, especially the higher value digital investments.

To reiterate:

  1. Everything boils down to one common denominator — transport

Did we not notice that industries in the transportation business got wiped out or almost wiped out by the recent gyrations of a global pandemic? Did we also not notice how just one ship blocking the Suez for 7 days put industries and people into distress, causing US$400 million (RM1.652 billion) an hour in trade and US$9.6 billion (RM39.65 billion) in westbound/eastbound traffic daily !

On the same note and in line with the theme on transportation, In this internet age where every information will need to be transported, processed and acted upon, the single most important commodity that glues the data pods is your transport networks. In our case this is a combination of land-based terrestrial coupled with the massive and growing global undersea fibre optic networks. Try messing with just this one component in its functional chain and you will cause the same havoc. Cabotage and landing rights are the 2 significant show stoppers for Tech (Foreign Direct Investments) FDIs in building capacity and investing in capabilities in any country.

  • This is an Service Level Agreement (SLA) and Service Level Guarantees (SLG) driven industry

The telecommunications service providers are operating at a 99.99% uptime at the minimum for their core networks. This is equivalent to about 53-minute outage for an entire year. So, when there is a fibre cut, the KPI is to get it fixed immediately. Negotiating at the point of catastrophic is not an option. What more if there is one party to negotiate with – How clever is that?

  • Data Centres and Undersea cables are tied to the hip

From a regional and global perspective, it is very obvious for some time now that we have all the 3 pieces for a perfect land grab for Data Centres investments. Good affordable power source, low cost and more importantly stable geophysical land banks, good value for money skilled knowledge workers ready to build and maintain them. Whilst we have this part figured out why are we rocking the boat when it comes to undersea fibre cable network when this is clearly the highest point of failure in a broader ecosystems due to cuts and outages? Let’s get clever !

  • Tech FDIs need clarity and simplicity

Facebook, Google, Microsoft, AWS and the likes of them are in a trillion-dollar market transition which is growing and they will look for options. Don’t discount the global Telco’s that are waking up to this demand for capacity. Countries that understand and manage this are going to be winners. We don’t even need to compete. Just be there with the right policy framework to support wave. Insert one variation of the standard business practice or expectations and it’s a great excuse to look elsewhere. Let’s get clever !

Corruption Must End, Uphold Transparency/Hapuskan Rasuah Menerusi Amalan Integriti

Scroll down for Malay version/Skrol ke bawah untuk versi Bahasa Malaysia

Corruption impoverishes the poor and the most vulnerable in our society. As the Chairman of MDEC, I support initiatives to address the scourge of corruption in Malaysia.

Corruption hurts the poor disproportionately, diverts funds intended for development, leaks precious public resources, and undermines a government’s ability to provide basic services.

MDEC is strongly committed to radical transparency, accountability, and integrity under MDEC’s “Reinvent’ mission, which will drive our strategy moving forward, thereby ensuring that we serve the Rakyat and industry better.

MDEC has taken serious measures to improve administrative processes. Recently we engaged KPMG and Ernst & Young to provide expert counsel to further strengthen governance in the organisation.

As an example, we have eliminated direct negotiation and closed tenders’ practices and instituted an open tender system.

We recently introduced Discretionary Authority Limits (DAL) which clearly specifies the limits of authority, processes and reporting that will govern the utilization of all MDEC grant disbursement and resources.

MDEC’s “Reinvent” mission promotes governance processes and policies that uphold competency, accountability and radical transparency with an emphasis on the ‘know-how’ instead of the ‘know-who’ as the key criterion in fair and transparent evaluation.

The success of Sinar’s Rasuah Busters initiative requires not only awareness, but also proactive and persistent involvement from all stakeholders in the ecosystem.

Increased education, enforcement and a strong political will are all required to ensure the success of this virtuous endeavour to transform Malaysia into the heart of Digital ASEAN and to improve the lives of each and every Malaysian.

As an agency under the Ministry of Communications and Multimedia Malaysia (KKMM) with nearly 25 years of experience in nationwide implementation of ICT and the digital economy, MDEC leads the aspiration of Malaysia to establish itself as a regional digital powerhouse with global champions at the forefront of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Rasuah yang berleluasa terus memudaratkan golongan miskin dan paling rentan dalam masyarakat kita. Sebagai Pengerusi Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) , saya menyokong inisiatif untuk membanteras gejala rasuah di Malaysia.

Rasuah ‘menyakitkan’ kumpulan rentan dalam masyarakat kerana dana yang disediakan oleh kerajaan untuk pembangunan tidak sampai kepada mereka yang memerlukan. Selain itu, rasuah juga melemahkan kemampuan kerajaan untuk menyediakan perkhidmatan asas.

MDEC mempunyai komitmen jitu untuk melaksanakan ketelusan secara radikal, kebertanggungjawaban dan integriti di bawah misi ‘Mencipta Semula’ yang diyakini akan mendorong strategi agensi untuk bergerak maju bagi memastikan dapat berkhidmat kepada rakyat dan industri dengan lebih baik.

MDEC telah melaksanakan langkah serius untuk meningkatkan pentadbirannya. Baru-baru ini , MDEC bekerjasama dengan KPMG dan Ernst & Young untuk mendapatkan nasihat dan kepakaran bagi mengukuhkan lagi tadbir urus dalam organisasi.

Contoh yang paling jelas ialah MDEC telah menghapuskan proses rundingan secara terus dan amalan pelaksanaan tender tertutup yang telah digantikan dengan sistem tender terbuka.

Di bawah misi ‘Mencipta Semula’, kami juga memperkenalkan Had Kuasa Budi Bicara Kumpulan (DAL) yang menentukan proses penggunaan sumber dan dana MDEC.

Misi ‘Mencipta Semula’ oleh MDEC mempromosikan proses dan dasar tadbir urus yang mengutamakan kecekapan, kebertanggungjawaban dan ketelusan dengan penekanan diberikan pada pengetahuan dan bukannya lagi ‘siapa’ sebagai kriteria utama dalam penilaian yang adil dan telus.
Kejayaan inisiatif Sinar Rasuah Busters bukan hanya memerlukan kesedaran tetapi juga penglibatan proaktif dan berterusan dari semua pihak yang berkepentingan dalam ekosistem.

Di samping itu, perlunya juga meningkatkan kualiti pendidikan, penguatkuasaan dan keazaman politik yang kuat diperlukan untuk memastikan kejayaan usaha murni ini untuk mengubah Malaysia menjadi Nadi Digital ASEAN dan seterusnya meningkatkan mutu kehidupan setiap rakyat Malaysia.

Sebagai sebuah agensi di bawah Kementerian Komunikasi dan Multimedia Malaysia (KKMM) serta berpengalaman hampir 25 tahun dalam pelaksanaan inisiatif berkaitan teknologi maklumat dan komunikasi (ICT) dan ekonomi digital negara, MDEC memimpin aspirasi Malaysia dengan memantapkan peranannya sebagai pusat kuasa digital serantau serta menjadi juara global dalam menghadapi era Revolusi Perindustrian 4.0 (IR4.0).

A Time to Reset and Rebuild/Menetap dan Membina Semula

Scroll down for Malay version/Skrol ke bawah untuk versi Bahasa Malaysia

In real estate, buying the cheapest house on the block is a strategy that may pay off nicely. For the same budget, you’re in a tonier neighbourhood and your home value is likely to rise faster to catch up to the median price. Perhaps, most importantly, you are constantly reminded there’s room for improvement.

As home to more than 650 million people – the world’s third largest population – with over 50% being under-30 and tech-savvy, ASEAN is the fastest growing Internet market in the world. Despite this, Malaysia had raised its economic performance and rankings to be at par amongst its peers.

Singapore is the knowledge hub; Indonesia gets the most foreign investment; and Vietnam has the highest growth rates. Malaysia is often discounted or overlooked as pundits hype the potential of the region, especially when it comes to the talent pool for innovation.

Not all of this scepticism is deserved, surely, as Malaysia has put digital transformation at the centre of its agenda in its COVID-19 recovery schemes. The main focus is on digital inclusion for micro-, small-, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) and the rural community. As is, the speed of change had actually been catalysed by the crisis.

The Malaysian government – via the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) – had embarked on a slew of initiatives to spur the digital economy and bridge the digital divide for all. These efforts are starting to pay off – the digital economy is estimated to contribute over 20% to the nation’s GDP by 2020.

It would also serve us well to recognise the niche areas where we can swiftly catch up and overtake our peers. The powerful technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) present many new opportunities to leapfrog the legacy systems. Ironically, those with the most developed economies often have the most to lose when disruptions affect them, thereby opening up space for others more amenable to embrace these next-gen changes.

This is true for fintech, for instance, where global financial centres – like Singapore – approach it more cautiously; or robotics, which challenge low-cost labour manufacturing hubs, such as Vietnam; or blockchain, a trend that holds the promise to decentralise authoritarian control of information and move it directly into the hands of the citizenry.

Concurrently, Malaysia can leverage much of the cumulative intellectual properties it had developed in Islamic Finance, for the oil & gas sector, tourism and industrial agriculture. This is to support innovative new business models – particularly with digital start-ups – in sectors that we already effectively competing in.

The shock of the pandemic has given the world an opportunity to reset and re-build systems currently in place for a more sustainable and inclusive society and economy. The current crisis also exposed the massive inequalities in our current economic systems, highlighting that a proper and sustainable recovery for the long-term needs to be inclusive.

In resetting, we must first acknowledge the inconsistencies, inadequacies and contradictions of our systems and within institutions. By rebuilding, we must first acknowledge how fragile the systems and its users are, and how to build a new social contract that honours the dignity of every human being. 

As MDEC works towards its vision of Malaysia 5.0, where the interplay of technology and society is complementary and inclusive, it is logical that collaborations with all stakeholders will be key to achieving this vision. No one organisation can do it alone, so deep collaboration across society will be key. There is a saying that we all can strive towards: “If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together!”

Datuk Wira Dr Hj. Rais Hussin Mohamed Ariff is the Chairman of MDEC, leading digital economy for the many towards Malaysia 5.0.

Dalam bidang hartanah, keputusan untuk melabur menerusi pembelian rumah murah di kawasan strategik berkemungkinan dapat memberikan pulangan yang baik. Ini berdasarkan andaian nilai rumah itu akan meningkat dengan lebih cepat di samping sentiasa wujud ruang untuk memperbaiki keadaan.

Sebagai ‘rumah’ kepada lebih 650 juta orang yang juga merupakan populasi ketiga terbesar di dunia serta lebih daripada 50 peratus penduduk berusia di bawah 30 tahun dan berpengetahuan teknologi, ASEAN merupakan pasaran Internet yang paling pesat berkembang di dunia. Pada masa sama, Malaysia juga meningkatkan prestasi ekonominya dan telah memperbaiki pencapaian untuk menyamai prestasi negara – negara jiran.

Singapura merupakan pusat pengetahuan, Indonesia pula menerima pelaburan asing paling tinggi manakala Vietnam mempunyai kadar pertumbuhan tertinggi. Malaysia pula ‘terpinggir’ atau diketepikan kerana pakar menilai potensi rantau ini secara keseluruhan terutama melibatkan kumpulan bakat untuk inovasi.

Bagaimanapun, tidak semua andaian ini berasas kerana negara kita telah melakukan transformasi digital untuk menjadi pusat rujukan mengharungi proses pemulihan COVID-19. Fokus utama ialah pendigitalan bagi Perusahaan Kecil dan Sederhana (PKS), usahwan mikro dan masyarakat luar bandar. Oleh itu, kepantasan untuk menerima perubahan teknologi boleh menjadi pemangkinan untuk proses pemulihan dan menangani krisis.

Kerajaan menerusi Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) telah melaksanakan pelbagai inisiatif untuk memacu ekonomi digital dan mengurangkan jurang digital di kalangan rakyat. Usaha ini telah membuahkan hasil apabila ekonomi digital dianggarkan menyumbang lebih dari 20 peratus kepada Keluaran Dalam Negara Kasar (KDNK) negara pada tahun lalu.

Seterusnya, petunjuk ini sangat penting bagi membolehkan kita memberi tumpuan terhadap bidang-bidang khusus yang mana Malaysia mempunyai kekuatan serta mampu menandingi prestasi negara – negara jiran. Teknologi berterusan dibawa oleh Revolusi Perindustrian 4.0 memberikan banyak peluang baharu untuk memantapkan sistem sedia ada. Sebagai perbandingn, negara yang maju ekonominya, sering mengalami kerugian apabila gangguan mempengaruhi operasi. Pada masa sama, ia telah membuka ruang kepada pihak lain yang bersedia menerima perubahan.

Situasi ini berlaku dalam sektor teknologi kewangan apabila pusat kewangan global seperti di Singapura mengambil langkah lebih berhati -hati. Ini termasuk penggunaan teknologi robotik yang memberi pilihan kepada kos buruh kos rendah seperti Vietnam atau blockchain, trend yang membolehkan pemusatan kawalan maklumat oleh pihak berkuasa terhadap rakyatnya.

Pada masa yang sama, Malaysia dapat memanfaatkan kepelbagaian intelektual yang dikembangkannya dalam Kewangan Islam, sektor minyak dan gas, pelancongan dan pertanian industri. Ini adalah untuk menyokong model perniagaan baharu yang inovatif terutamanya dengan pendigitalan bagi membolehkan sektor ini terus bersaing di pasaran global.

‘Kejutan’ wabak ini telah memberi peluang kepada dunia untuk mengatur semula dan membangunkan kembali sistem sedia ada untuk masyarakat dan ekonomi yang lebih lestari dan inklusif. Krisis semasa juga menyaksikan ketidaksamaan dalam sistem ekonomi sedia ada serta memberi petanda bahawa pemulihan yang tepat dan berterusan untuk jangka panjang perlu bersifat inklusif.

Mengenai proses untuk menetapkan semula, perkara penting yang harus diakui ialah polisi tidak konsisten, kekurangan dan percanggahan sistem sedia dalam institusi. Bagi membina semula, kita harus menyedari bahawa sistem sedia ada sangat ‘rapuh’ kepada pengguna dan wujudnuya keperluan membina kontrak sosial baharu bagi memberi peluang kepada semua golongan.

Memandangkan MDEC sedang berusaha mencapai wawasannya tentang Malaysia 5.0 yang menetapkan supaya interaksi masyarakat dan teknologi saling melengkapi dan inklusif, adalah penting diingatkan bahawa kerjasama dengan semua pihak akan menjadi kunci kejayaan. Tidak ada organisasi yang dapat melakukannya tugas secara sendiri. Ada pepatah mengatakan bahawa “Jika anda ingin pergi dengan cepat, lakukan sendiri, namun jika anda mahu pergi jauh, lakukan secara bersama! “

Datuk Wira Dr Hj. Rais Hussin Mohamed Ariff merupakan Pengerusi MDEC yang memimpin ekonomi digital untuk manfaat pelbagai golongan ke arah Malaysia 5.0.


Scroll down for Malay version/Skrol ke bawah untuk versi Bahasa Melayu

Malaysian innovation must rise to overcome the challenges of the post-Covid recovery. When we look back upon this critical time, we might even appreciate the unique opportunity it has given us to upgrade some of the legacy infrastructure and future proof it to facilitate new growth in the digital economy.

In the 4IR world, digital information and big data will serve as the fuel that powers the new economy. Societies will increasingly enjoy decentralised access to everything within it – a new reality of sorts that presents game-changing opportunities. However, this also raises serious concerns.

The Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC), tasked with overseeing the digitalisation of the nation, must fulfil its responsibility to integrate digital society onto a unified platform that serves all its participants efficiently, ensuring that traffic moves smoothly on its networks and that all members of society are equitably served.

A key aspect of the Malaysia 5.0 vision is building this digital infrastructure with a unified alliance of stakeholders both within government and across private enterprise. This “Unity Alliance” is an economic coalition that will serve society in its migration into the digital age.

We see many great initiatives from different agencies, designed to stimulate the growth of fintech as a means of accelerating the adoption of a digital economy. MDEC will continuously support these initiatives by providing a unified framework that they can interoperate on – easily and cost-effectively – across the entire national digital ecosystem.

Malaysia 5.0, properly implemented, will function as the tracks that the digital economy will travel on. If this sounds impossibly ambitious for a country like Malaysia to achieve, then it only underlines the importance of designing a system that caters to our own particular competitive strengths, such as in Islamic Fintech, where Malaysia can bid to play a leadership role in an exciting sunrise industry.

Malaysia 5.0 is inspired by Japan’s Society 5.0 initiative – a concept that proposes to put society at the centre of technology so that technology serves society and not the other way around. It also allows for the management of disruptive new systems, such as fintech, to ensure that benefits accrue fairly across society without bias.

To achieve this, Malaysia 5.0 will need to intermediate digital marketplaces, banks and fintech companies and make them interoperable for public services and commercial counter-parties. This omni-channel access creates the connectivity, services and relationships needed to build the kind of digital economy which supports all members of society, especially with small- and medium-sized enterprises, a sector that is most vulnerable to the effects of digital transition.

Malaysia 5.0 not only helps in the creation of new spokes in the wheel of the digital economy, but – in so doing – also serves as a centralised hub for Government to provide its regulatory oversight and public services. The result is massive efficiency gains and comprehensive oversight built into one unified system.

In areas where we enjoy competitive strengths, such as Islamic Fintech, Malaysia 5.0 positions Malaysia in the global marketplace of banks, insurers, telcos and etc, to provide Islamic digital services. Certainly, I am the first to acknowledge that we are far away from leading the world as an innovation economy, but the first step towards progressing on this path is recognising the need for an initiative, such as Malaysia 5.0, to build a national framework that stimulates and supports our future digital economy.

There has never been a better time to think creatively and implement big change. If we unify around this objective, then we can hope to not only recover lost ground from the pandemic, but also leap-frog into innovation that will serve our future digital age generations. Unity Alliance truly can be an alliance that serves all Malaysians in our shared common goals for recovery, progress, and well-being.

Inovasi Malaysia mesti dipertingkatkan untuk mengatasi cabaran pemulihan pasca Covid-19. Apabila merenung kembali waktu yang mencabar ini, kita akan menghargai peluang unik yang diberikan untuk menambah baik beberapa infrastruktur sedia ada bagi memastikan pertumbuhan baharu dalam ekonomi digital di masa hadapan.

Dalam era Revolusi Industri 4.0 (IR 4.0), maklumat digital dan data raya (Big Data) akan berfungsi sebagai ‘bahan utama’ yang akan menggerakkan ekonomi baharu. Masyarakat pula lebih mudah untuk menikmati kemudahan dan akses  serta peluang baharu namun wujud juga beberapa kebimbangan.

MDEC sebagai agensi yang diberi mandat untuk ‘mendigitalkan negara’ harus melaksanakan tanggungjawabnya bagi mengintegrasikan masyarakat ke platform digital yang disatukan . Tanggungjawab ini termasuklah untuk memberi khidmat dengan cekap memastikan pergerakan trafik digital sentiasa lancar serta semua kelompok rakyat dilayan dengan adil.

Aspek utama visi Malaysia 5.0 adalah membangunkan  infrastruktur digital dengan kerjasama kerajaan dan swasta. “Unity Alliance” ini merupakan gabungan ekonomi yang akan memberi perkhidmatan kepada masyarakat yang beralih ke era digital.

MDEC melihat banyak inisiatif hebat yang melibatkan pelbagai agensi telah dirancang untuk merangsang pertumbuhan Teknologi Kewangan sebagai alat untuk mempercepat penerapan ekonomi digital. MDEC akan menyokong inisiatif ini dengan menyediakan kerangka kerja bagi membolehkan ia dapat beroperasi dengan mudah serta menjimatkan kos keseluruhan ekosistem digital kebangsaan.

Malaysia 5.0, sekiranya dilaksanakan dengan betul akan berfungsi sebagai landasan untuk ekonomi digital bergerak. Jika ada yang beranggapan bahawa impian ini terlalu tinggi untuk dicapai oleh Malaysia, ini memberi petanda bahawa pentingnya untuk kita merancang sistem yang menyokong persaingan sengit sesama sendiri. Teknologi Kewangan Islam sebagai contoh telah membuktikan Malaysia boleh berusaha untuk memainkan peranan sebagai pemimpin dalam industri yang sedang berkembang pesat.

Malaysia 5.0 diilhamkan berdasarkan inisiatif Japan 5.0 Society yang berhasrat untuk meletakkan rakyat negara itu di pusat teknologi sehingga membolehkan teknologi melayani masyarakat dan bukan sebaliknya. Hal ini juga memungkinkan pengelolaan sistem baharu seperti Fintech untuk memastikan bahawa keuntungan dapat dinikmati secara adil oleh rakyat.

Bagi mencapai hasrat ini, Malaysia 5.0 perlu mengintegrasikan Pasaran Digital, Bank dan Syarikat Teknologi Kewangan untuk perkhidmatan awam dan rakan niaga komersial. Akses ini mewujudkan hubungan dan perkhidmatan diperlukan untuk membina ekonomi digital yang menyokong semua anggota masyarakat, termasuklah Perusahaan Kecil dan Sederhana (PKS) yang paling terkesan disebabkan peralihan digital.

Malaysia 5.0 tidak hanya membantu dalam penciptaan inti baharu dalam putaran ekonomi digital sebaliknya juga sebagai pusat bagi kerajaan untuk melaksanakan pengawasan, menyediakan peraturan dan perkhidmatan awamnya. Pada akhirnya, hasil yang dijangka ialah berlaku peningkatan kecekapan serta pengawasan menyeluruh yang terbentuk dalam satu sistem.

Di kawasan yang menyaksikan kita berdepan persaingan sengit seperti Teknologi Kewangan Islam, Malaysia 5.0 akan menempatkan negara kita di pasaran global bank, syarikat insurans, telekomunikasi , menyediakan perkhidmatan digital Islam dan sebagainya. Sudah tentu saya menerima kenyataan bahawa Malaysia masih jauh untuk memimpin dunia menerusi inovasi. Namun demikian, langkah pertama untuk mencapai hasrat berkenaan bermula dengan inisiatif seperti Malaysia 5.0 yang akan merangsang dan menyokong ekonomi digital masa depan kita.

Inilah waktunya untuk berfikir secara kreatif dan melaksanakan perubahan besar. Sekiranya kita bersatu untuk menjayakan objektif ini, negara bukan hanya akan pulih daripada pandemik ini sebaliknya melakukan lonjakan digital untuk generasi masa depan. Unity Alliance boleh menjadi satu jalinan kerjasama yang melayani semua rakyat bersama untuk pemulihan, kemajuan dan kesejahteraan.

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