Photo: Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) vice president (corporate affairs) Razaleigh Zainal (centre) with (from left to right) MDEC vice president (enterprise development) Gopi Ganesalingam, former ASOCIO chairman Abdullah H. Kafi, current ASOCIO chairman David Wong and immediate past ASOCIO chairman Bunrak Saraggananda.
In the first quarter of 2017, national ICT agency Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) continued with the national drive to Digital Malaysia with particular focus on the rapidly eCommerce sector, seen as a master cog.
With a view to becoming a high-income knowledge-based society, MDEC spearheaded government initiatives such as the establishment of the country's Digital Free Trade Zone (DFTZ) and programmes for the rakyat (the people) such as eUsahawan.
By way of a progress check, early fruits of that strategy now includes Malaysia being named as the winner of the Asian-Oceanian Computing Industry Organisation's (ASOCIO) Global ICT Excellence Award for Digital Government - essentially for DFTZ - at the World Congress on Information Technology (WCIT) and ASOCIO ICT Summit held recently in Taipei, Taiwan.
"The DFTZ is one of the main initiatives that MDEC holds to be of paramount importance for Malaysia," explained MDEC vice president (corporate affairs) Razaleigh Zainal (pic below), present at the event in Taipei.
"Designed to take full advantage of eCommerce and borderless trade, the DFTZ can have a massive impact on the way business is done in Malaysia and position it as a significant trading nation," said Razaleigh.
"eCommerce has and will continue to affect traditional retail avenues and businesses. Through technology and increasingly borderless access, businesses now have access to a much larger potential market," he said, reasserting the government's Digital Malaysia vision, which is about transforming the nation towards a developed digital economy by 2020.
Founded to represent ICT associations from 24 economies throughout Asia Pacific, ASOCIO was established in Tokyo, Japan in 1984. ASOCIO's objective is to promote, encourage and foster relationships and trade among its members, and to develop the computing industry throughout the region. It has grown to become one of the most active international ICT trade organisation in Asia and Oceania. Today, ASOCIO's influence covers more than 10,000 ICT companies and represents approximately US$ 350 billion in ICT revenue in the region.
The DFTZ - a joint undertaking between Chinese eCommerce conglomerate Alibaba Group and the national ICT agency Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) - was launched in March 2017 by the prime minister, with MDEC's chief executive officer Datuk Yasmin Mahmood in attendance.
Ma admitted that at that time, he and his team didn't think it was possible. "We had been discussing that project with many countries in Europe and Asia, and there were many things to do and obstacles to surmount, such as bureaucrats and technology. Amazingly, after four months, this thing happened!"
"I want to share here that it took us only ten minutes to agree on this project - but I had been thinking about this for more than 10 years. And I am pretty sure that the prime minister had also thought about this for a long, long time. Only when the opportunity comes, when the chance come, can we make it happen - and we did it," he said.
The DFTZ is all about empowering small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to do cross-border commerce and trade, MDEC's chief executive officer Datuk Yasmin Mahmood.told Computerworld Malaysia shortly after the launch.
"We will be doubling the growth of SME exports in Malaysia," she had added in her DFTZ opening address at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre. "At the same time, the vision is to nurture an ecosystem for Malaysia to be a 'best of class' logistics hub that will serve the ASEAN market for all global brands, as well as all for global market places."
"Malaysians have embraced the internet economy and eCommerce in a big way. We are now leading the eCommerce market in the region generating revenue of US$2.3 billion in 2015. With the launch of the world's first Digital Free Trade Zone, Malaysia will serve as a regional eFulfillment centre, and also become the regional hub for SMEs, marketplaces and monobrands," noted the prime minister in his launch keynote.
[See - Deep Dive with Jack Ma on Malaysia and the Digital Silk Road and Why DFTZ will double Malaysia's SME exports]
Multiple agency push
When contacted by Computerworld Malaysia about the award in Taiwan, Razaleigh said that embracing "eCommerce is of fundamental importance for Malaysia and our local companies."
"In fact, our country has already started preparing for this, with 25 agencies and ministries coming together under the National eCommerce Council to look exactly at how to take respond to and take advantage of the situation," he said.
"eCommerce is becoming the mainstream right now; in fact, it's becoming the baseline - and this is reflected by the fact that people do not even call it eCommerce anymore, they just call it Commerce," said Razaleigh.
"Being one of the most visible of all MDEC's undertakings at the moment, DFTZ is an initiative that can trigger a massive impact towards trade in Malaysia, and position Malaysia as a very big trading nation," he added.
eUsahawan programme also recognised
In addition to the ASOCIO Digital Government award for DFTZ, MDEC has also been recognised with a merit World Information Technology & Services Alliance (WITSA) Global ICT Excellence Award for Malaysia's eUsahawan programme at the same event.
"It is most heartening to note that our efforts for the rakyat have been recognised at the international level," said Razaleigh.
With the goal of identifying the most outstanding ICT users, the WITSA Global ICT Excellence Awards honours organisations that have demonstrated exceptional achievement in using ICT to benefit societies, governments, individuals, organisations and the private sector.
Razaleigh describes eUsahawan as "an engagement and education initiative" that integrates a digital entrepreneurship curriculum into major Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) institutions nationwide, also extending the engagement to include micro-entrepreneurs via a short course format.
MDEC has been working closely with strategic and industry partners such as the Department of Polytechnic Education, the Department of Community Colleges, Mara (Majlis Amanah Rakyat or the Council of Trust for the People), the Association of Business Executives, Xentral Methods, Celcom, Karangkraf and Lelong.my to develop the initiative.
"Malaysia is a centre of excellence when it comes to innovation, service offerings, and is a good place to do business," said Razaleigh.
"Technology has become such a force of disruption that the landscape of entire industries changes in the blink of an eye. MDEC's role is to ensure that Malaysia is ready for the digital future and that everything is in place. This includes education, mind-set and the tools available."
"Towards that end, MDEC will continue to lead and drive various initiatives and act as the guiding hand in Malaysia's Digital Economy," added Razaleigh.
To see some key articles on Digital Malaysia, visit:
- Malaysia's battle plan for digital disruption: part 1 of an exclusive with MDEC's Datuk Yasmin
- Disrupting the disrupters in Malaysia: part 2 of an exclusive with MDEC CEO Datuk Yasmin
- Here's what happened in Malaysia's IT industry in the first three months of 2017
- MDEC adds another master cog to Malaysia's Digital Economy
- What's really in store for Malaysia's IT industry in 2017?