Minister in the Prime Minister's Department YB Datuk Seri Dr. Wee Ka Siong Speaks at the 4th World Internet Conference·Wuzhen Summit
Wuzhen, China: Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong says Malaysia’s digital economy forms a substantial part of the national economy, contributing 17.8% of the country's GDP and expected to contribute more than 20% of GDP by the year 2020, and he is confident that Malaysia can be the window for China and all other countries to penetrate the huge market of e-commerce activity in ASEAN.
“In fact, Malaysia is the leading eCommerce market in the region generating revenue of US$2.3 billion in 2015, and Malaysia has a strong foundation in developing e-commerce where 76.9% of Malaysians have access to the Internet and 89.4% of them use their smartphones to surf the Net.”
He was addressing delegates in the forum themed “International Cooperation Along the Digital Silk Road” during the 4th World Internet Conference (WIC/Wuzhen Summit)) held here. First held in 2014, the Summit focuses on international cooperation along the “Digital Silk Road” to promote policy coordination, infrastructure connectivity, lower trade barriers, financial integration and people-to- people bonds along the trade routes of the Belt and Road Initiative.
Dr Wee says in ASEAN alone, 339.2 million individuals have Internet access and by 2020, this figure is projected to reach 480 million. The rapidly expanding middle class in the region’s 650 million population will drive a massive demand for online media, travel and e-commerce services.
He added, Malaysia started its venture into the digital economy in 1996 with the establishment of Multimedia Super Corridor and multiple technology parks. These initiatives have since delivered a total of RM285 billion in investments into the country, creating tens of thousands of jobs. Malaysia was ranked in the top 3 in AT Kearney’s Global Services Location Index for 10 consecutive years behind only China and India.
“We have developed multiple fronts of the digital economy including i) Malaysia Digital Hubs; ii) Malaysia Tech Entrepreneur Programme; iii) Malaysia FinTech Hub; and v) MaGIC, or Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre to bring corporations and technopreneurs closer together.”
He also quoted the 2017 Facebook-Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) report on Internet inclusiveness that out of 75 countries, Malaysia is ranked No 1 in the category of readiness, which examines the capacity of a country to access the Internet, including skills, cultural acceptance, and supporting policy. With increasing efforts from the Malaysian Government, more affordable Internet access and support from society, Malaysia is ready to expand its Internet inclusiveness to the next level.
He said the global digital economy is worth around USD 11.5 trillion or 15.5% of the global GDP, and that a global revolution is brewing not just in business but also other aspect of human lives. The mega trends, namely the Digital Future; 4th Industrial Revolution; globalization; community living and the rise of entrepreneurship will significantly impact human lives.
“By the year 2020, an entire generation, Generation C (for ‘connected’), would have grown up in a primarily digital world. Globally, there will be more devices connected to the Internet than people. It is estimated that there will be 50 billion devices compare with 7.5 billion people by 2020, facilitated by low cost, IOT, and easy access. Communities with increasingly affordable smart devices and connectivity improvements will be changed in many aspects including people relation, interaction, shopping, and business activity,” he added.
Dr Wee also said digitization will see dramatic changes in business and delivery models with the adoption of Deep Learning, Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, Cloud Computing, Social Media, Virtual Stores, 3D Printing, Robotics, Internet of Things, and even e-Residencies as the world increasingly becomes a “digital” world through a convergence of digitised services and devices.
He added that this trend would also give rise to location independent micro enterprises, where the face of entrepreneurship will be increasingly younger with greater female participation and start-ups with innovative ideas will be making waves across the globe. This will also stimulate regional cooperation where inter and intra trade between emerging and developed market will strengthen in addition to increased workers mobility and technological advances.
As for the efforts done by the Malaysia’s government in embracing the all IT-age, Dr Wee says that the government has been aggressively gearing up for this revolution. For example, the government has installed public Internet centres called “1Malaysia Centres” in rural areas to allow more people access to the Internet. 820 centres are currently in operation, with user membership reaching 550,000 people.
“At the same time, we developed the National Internet of Things Strategic Roadmap 2015- 2025 to create a conducive ecosystem that aims to transform Malaysia into a regional development hub for the future state of individual living, consumption and governance in a mega-connected age. This is because rapid demographic changes also mean that the younger technologically-savvy generation is rapidly moving into their prime spending years, so the way they will spend and consume data and services will lead to the explosive development of Internet of things, big data and cloud computing”.
He also highlighted that the Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Najib Razak has proposed the establishment of an ad-hoc steering group on Internet and digital economy for Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, including a road map for APEC digital economy. Further, national Technical and Vocational Education and Training policies will be changed to adapt to the demand of the new digital economy and challenges by the advent of the “Fourth Industrial Revolution”.
He added, Malaysia has also launched the Digital Free Trade Zone, the first in the world outside of China. The regional e-Fullfillment Hub based in the centre of Malaysia Aeropolis will facilitate growth in e-commerce through seamless cross-border trade, Satellite Services Hub and e-Service Platform. It is estimated that US$65 billion worth of goods will be moving through DFTZ and 60,000 jobs will be created by 2025. This is in addition to Malaysia push for regional tax exemption for purchase of products for personal consumption below RM800 to facilitate growth.
“The advancement of the Internet and e-commerce is very important to Malaysia and we will play our part to sustain it as the next level engine of growth for Malaysia and the regional economy. For this, Malaysia supports the initiative at the ASEAN level on joint efforts, information sharing and exchanges on policy through the ASEAN Telecommunications Ministers Meeting (TELMIN).”
Dr Wee also said that Malaysia has also adopted the ASEAN ICT Masterplan 2015 which focuses on Economic Development and Transformation; People Integration and Empowerment Through ICT; Innovation; ICT Infrastructure Development; Human Resource Development; ICT in the ASEAN Single Market; New Media and Content; and most importantly Information Security and Assurance. This Masterplan will also work with regional partners, such as China, India and Japan, towards a more robust global connectivity.
He also pointed out that Malaysia subscribes to the principles set out under the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) which brings together 193 countries to work strategically together towards a wide range of issues relating to the telecommunications industry.
“Malaysia is indeed eager to be a world leader in how we live, spend and enjoy our lives in a digital age. We are ever ready to work with China, our ASEAN and Asia neighbours and the rest of the world to usher in a new era of the Internet,” he added.
Dr Wee Ka Siong was attending the 4th World Internet Conference (WIC) known as the Wuzhen Summit from Dec 3 to Dec 5 in Wuzhen, Zhejiang Province, China.
More than 1500 delegates from more than 80 countries and more than 400 companies from 13 countries and regions have gathered here at WIC, one of the largest international events that examines and promotes consensus building on issues and trends of the state of the Internet and shapes long term policies that affects billions of users and consumers.