Lofty aspirations . . .
Earlier this week Malaysia’s Prime Minister Mahathir reiterated his government’s commitment to regaining the country’s status as an ‘Asian tiger’ at the International Conference on Industry 4.0 by positioning Malaysia as a technology creator. Mahathir’s vision is for Malaysia to become the Industry 4.0 hub in Southeast Asia, and his pronouncement is consistent with measures released on October 11 in Malaysia’s National Budget 2020, which includes such phrases as: “building digital infrastructure,” “building digital applications,” “building digital companies,” and “building digital Malaysians.”
Key takeaways from national budget . . .
The major measure in ‘building digital infrastructure’ is to provide comprehensive coverage of high-speed and quality digital connectivity across the country, including in remote areas. ‘Building digital applications’ focuses on developing the gaming industry and providing funding to high-tech projects such as drone delivery, autonomous vehicles, and blockchain. ‘Building digital companies’ includes incentives for MSMEs to automate their business operations. Lastly, the National Budget 2020 contains provisions for ensuring that gains from the country’s digital transformation are shared with the Malaysian workforce and communities, including through scholarships and training programs.
A regional race . . .
Malaysia’s attempts to accelerate its transition to a digital economy is part of the intra-regional race among Southeast Asian countries to become the leader in the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ and reflects similar approaches taken elsewhere in Southeast Asia. A recent report projects that Malaysia is well-positioned to capture value from the roll-out of its 5G network, with only Singapore and Indonesia ranking higher in the region, even though the country’s digital economy is currently experiencing a slowdown relative to regional peers.
- Digital News Asia: Budget 2020: Accelerating transition to a digital economy
- Straits Times: 2020 Budget: A boost for Malaysia’s tech industry
- The Star: Full text of Budget 2020 speech