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

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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

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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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