The private sector must embrace new technologies in order for the country to accelerate its economic recovery, said Prime Minister (PM) Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.
He said the Covid-19 pandemic had been an enabler in hastening the adoption of digital solutions, and it had also demonstrated the importance of upgrading and, strengthening the technology and infrastructure to ease the process of doing business.
“This includes reducing our reliance on unskilled labour as we move swiftly into a phase of automation and digitalisation,” he said in his speech during the dialogue session with industries organised by the Ministry of International Trade and Industry yesterday.
The PM said another silver lining behind the pandemic was the new-found sense of urgency to the digital inclusion agenda, to enable millions to work, learn and connect digitally.
“The pandemic has made us realise that for us to move forward, we need to break away from normalcy and develop various measures to cushion the impact on our people and our economy. It is no longer business as usual. It is time for new ideas. It is time to innovate,” he said.
Muhyiddin said the government recently announced a Digital Transformation Roadmap, which contains action plans that focus on expanding and improving Malaysia’s digital connectivity.
He said the National Digital Network or Jendala action plan, amounting to US$12.7 billion (RM52.4 billion), would be the platform to achieve these aspirations by accelerating the country’s digital connectivity through widespread deployment of mobile, fibre and fixed wireless access, and paving the way for 5G.
“We believe it will push the adoption of technology and digital transformation. This is necessary for the country’s economic trajectory. Malaysia also recognises that Industrial Revolution 4.0 (IR4.0)-based industry would accelerate the growth of our digital economy.
“Under IR4.0 technology-aspired initiative, we have introduced Malaysia 5.0 — a digital transformation agenda for businesses, to address digital accessibility, financial inclusion, productivity and growth through the tools of IR4.0 such as financial technology, blockchain and artificial intelligence,” he said.
With Malaysia 5.0, Muhyiddin said the digital economy would be empowered to contribute towards a more sustainable and circular economy.
According to the PM, central to the economic recovery is the successful rollout of the national vaccination programme, which has now entered its second phase.
“As more and more Malaysians get vaccinated, I am convinced that we are finally on the brink of effectively ending this pandemic,” he said.
Meanwhile, Muhyiddin said Bank Negara Malaysia has estimated that the country’s GDP will rebound to between 6% and 7.5% this year, with the stable recovery of domestic activities, coupled with improving external demand, serving as the underlying factors fuelling such optimism.
As an open economy that was heavily reliant on trade, he said, Malaysia will continue to be a strong supporter of the rules-based multilateral trading system.
In addition, he said, the country will continue to engage constructively in regional economic integration initiatives, including through an active pursuit of free trade agreements, which brought tangible benefits to Malaysia.
“This was the main reason behind our participation in the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership agreement, which grants preferential access to one-third of the world’s population, a market worth 29% of the global GDP,” he said.
Going forward, the PM expressed hope that the business community, as well as private individuals, would continue to assume a central role in managing and curbing the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We must continue to adopt a whole-of-society approach to foster an attitude of self-reliance and a spirit of solidarity. Curbing the pandemic and remedying its adverse consequences are our shared responsibility.
“Hence, I must once again stress that the role of industry is paramount in order to accomplish our common goal of protecting lives and safeguarding livelihoods,” he added.