Since the 90s, Malaysia has come a long way from being reliant on industrial and manufacturing activities to one that’s fundamentally knowledge-based, via the adoption of technology.
Multimedia Super Corridor Malaysia (MSC) was an early initiator in this paradigm shift, driven by the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC). MDEC is reported to have contributed to the growth of our digital economy efforts which currently stands at 22.6% of the total GDP.
More recently, the Malaysia Digital Economy Blueprint (MyDIGITAL) has played a role in the country’s digital adoption, which was spurred by the pandemic.
Now, MDEC believes we are in a new state of change and has rolled out a new plan to accelerate the country’s digital economy, and it’s called the Malaysia Digital (MD) initiative.
Beyond the borders of Cyberjaya
MD is an initiative by MDEC to converge digital sectors with the economy. To do so, it will advocate and promote the universal use of digital solutions in all economic activities.
Via MD, stakeholders involved will be opened up and given access to digital tools, knowledge, and income opportunities, as part of the enhanced initiatives planned for the programme.
MSC will be transformed into MD, which aims to position Malaysia as a globally competitive digital nation.
Thus, MD’s framework will see a refresh of the Bill of Guarantees, non-location-based incentives, and an expansion of locations for promoted activities, amongst other things.
Speaking to Vulcan Post, MDEC’s CEO, Mahadhir Aziz explained that the expansion of location-based activities is in reference to the previous boundaries MSC had set for its framework. Back then, the companies under MSC were mainly based in Cyberjaya.
“With MD, we aim to expand digital hubs across Malaysia and are working together with various state governments to do so,” shared Mahadhir.
Pushing forth digital nomads and digital trade
Some of the other initiatives that will take place under MD include something called DE Rantau. It is intended to establish Malaysia as the preferred Digital Nomad Hub within SEA by boosting digital adoption and promoting digital professional mobility across the country.
DE Rantau aims to benefit both local and foreign talents via the creation of a proper ecosystem to support digital nomads.
“Digital nomads will be able to regain the work-life balance, feel safe while on holiday-working across various locations in Malaysia, have access to stable broadband connectivity, as well as other facilities and services which that support the nomadic lifestyle,” elaborated Mahadhir.
MDEC’s CEO believes that the DE Rantau programme will have a spill-over effect on the economy, as it has the potential to benefit the local tourism industry too.
Another programme under MD will involve the country’s digital trade, seeing that COVID-19 has fast-tracked Malaysia’s digitalisation opportunities. MD aims to capitalise on this traction and further involve other businesses in transitioning to digital activities.
“This programme will drive interoperability and greater harmonisation of standards and regulatory approaches and facilitate trade within Malaysia and across borders,” added Mahadhir.
It will also seek to standardise data exchange for efficient payment and collection through e-invoicing.
Bringing companies from MSC to MD
As mentioned earlier, MD will become the enhanced MSC. Hence, all 2,794 active MSC-status companies will be absorbed into MD, without needing to reapply.
For context, MSC has a cumulatively generated revenue of RM588 billion and RM212 billion in exports as of December 2020, according to MDEC.
With the launch of MD soon, it will not affect the incentives being enjoyed by the existing companies, or applications that have been made by them.
“Those will be evaluated and processed as per current guidelines and procedures, which will remain status quo until further notice,” Mahadhir made clear.
“In the meantime, existing Cybercities, Cybercentres, and Digital Hubs will continue to provide ready infrastructure and a conducive business environment for MSC-status companies as well.”
MD is set to provide businesses with agility, flexibility, and relevance to the current market trends through a range of incentives and support.
“We are confident with the new offerings as well as various impetus programmes to grow the ecosystem, Malaysia will compete with the best and this can only be good news to all our existing and soon-to-be MD-status companies,” Mahadhir shared.
A look into Malaysia’s digital future
Mahadhir firmly believes that Malaysia possesses a multitude of benefits for foreign direct investments to land and expand into the wider ASEAN region.
Hence why MDEC is committed to driving Malaysia’s digital economy forward via various initiatives and programmes.
Speaking about Malaysia’s current digital economy development, Mahadhir stated that the country is now at a critical juncture in growing the digital economy.
“On one hand, businesses, especially SMEs and MSMEs, cannot afford to not digitalise, as they risk falling behind,” he shared.
At the same time, Mahadhir acknowledged that the digital economy landscape has changed so much over the past two years. Now, massive changes are needed for Malaysia to remain competitive.
We have the capacity and capability, but we need to ensure we stay competitive with flexible, agile, and relevant offerings; hence, the introduction of Malaysia Digital as a successor programme to MSC Malaysia.
Mahadhir Aziz, CEO of MDEC.
Featured Image Credit: Mahadhir Aziz, CEO of MDEC