By Datuk Wira Dr. Hj. Rais Hussin, Chairman, MDEC
Digitisation and digitalisation of the economy are at the forefront of societal change today, as countries emerge from a debilitating pandemic and face the challenges of recovery in the new normal.
This unique and unprecedented moment has unleashed structural changes without parallel in recent living memory. Many will have no choice but to adjust with this new paradigm, as their old-world reality is permanently altered.
While concerns for those swept aside are of paramount importance, the same crisis has concurrently unleashed the agents of change, the ones who will usher in a new digital age.
For many, the industrial revolution that drove mankind into becoming technological civilizations only 200 years ago had reached another major milestone with the quantum leap into the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR).
Even as 4IR is here to stay, its implementation will truly differentiate progressive societies from repressive ones.
Just as the steam engine triggered widespread exploitation of fossil fuels that exacerbated the climate crisis the world faces today, the awesome technologies that are powering and driving 4IR today – artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, Internet of Things (IoT), robotics and digital currency among others – will define the future of the human experience and how it moves forward in this new age of disruption.
Tasked with the responsibility to digitally re-skill Malaysians most greatly affected by this transformation, the role of MDEC cannot be overstated.
It is our task to ensure wide deployment and early adoption of 4IR tools so that even marginalized members of society can keep pace with the widespread displacement that is bound to occur – not just within Malaysia but to also ensure it stands out and ahead of its regional and international peers.
Given that over 90% of Malaysian businesses are categorised as micro, small, and medium-sized entrepreneurs (SMEs), it is imperative that they are all digitally empowered. MDEC continues to drive towards this aspiration with the many platforms and initiatives it developed and introduced in recent years. The goal: to ensure “mom and pop” enterprises have access to digitalise.
Investment by way of training, subsidies, incentives, grants and loans are all integral to achieving digital inclusion goals, more so now in a year that contends with an unprecedented pandemic.
MDEC is uniquely positioned to engender grassroots involvement by sharing resources across all stakeholders in society in an equitable way.
The over-riding philosophy governing the penetration of 4IR tech in Malaysia’s digital economy is the objective of achieving a shared prosperity for all regardless of class, colour or creed.
Indeed, the COVID-19 global crisis is the opportunity for all to consider reinvention for a better future. In doing so, there will be greater possibilities for all to sustain and expand themselves, by placing society at the center of 4IR technology rather than the other way around.
This is our new narrative at MDEC and the stated vision behind Malaysia 5.0. Change we can. Change we must.