COLOMBO, Dec 19 (Bernama) — Malaysia is well-prepared to remain as a key technology player in South-East Asia, as the region embraces the transformations of the digital era, says Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.
He said Malaysia was on the right track, with initiatives such as the digital free trade zone (DFTZ) and National Strategic Plan on Internet of Things (IoT).
“In March this year, just four months after the idea was first conceived, I launched the DFTZ in Malaysia, the first outside China.
“The DFTZ combines physical and virtual zones, with added online and digital services to facilitate international e-Commerce and spur Internet-based innovations,” he said during a visit to Dialog Axiata plc’s office, which also saw the launch of the Dialog Axiata Digital Innovation Fund (DADIF) here today.
Najib said Malaysia has much to gain from the implementation of its own Fourth Industrial Revolution (Industry 4.0) model, and it meant re-looking and reinventing the way of doing things by incorporating technology into the whole process, from manufacturing to supply chain, right up to customer relations management.
“There is no doubt that we are currently facing the transformational waves of the digital economy. Technology is changing not just how we do business or buy products, but also how we interact, organise politically, get involved in the community and how we solve problems, and all of this can support millions of new jobs and spur economic development,” he said.
He said that the IoT was projected to generate a gross national income of US$2.5 billion (US$1 = RM4.08) by 2020 and create 14,270 high skilled jobs.
“I outlined a host of programmes under the digital economy initiatives, including the Digital Maker Movement, introducing computer coding in the school syllabus and introducing new digital hubs,” he said.
Najib said he was proud of the achievements of Malaysian company, Dialog Axiata.
“As prime minister, obviously I feel proud of the achievements of government-linked companies like Dialog Axiata, especially when they venture beyond Malaysia’s shores. Today, we are not only celebrating the company’s commercial triumphs but also its contributions to the Sri Lankan economy and community through the introduction of communication technologies and advancements.
“I am delighted that over the past two decades, Dialog Axiata has become one of Sri Lanka’s largest companies with investments of over US$2.2 billion, the fourth largest market capitalisation on the Colombo Stock Exchange, and most importantly, as I have been made to understand, the number one foreign direct investor in Sri Lanka,” he said.
“As the market leader in Sri Lanka, it is no surprise to me that Dialog Axiata has introduced many firsts in this country and in the region. They are the first to introduce third-generation (3G) and fourth-generation (4G) technologies in South Asia, and most recently, they have also demonstrated the 5G, and they have also provided financial inclusive products such as EZCash,” he said.
Meanwhile, Najib said, DADIF, Dialog Axiata’s US$15 million venture capital fund, would be used for investments in Sri Lankan digital start-ups, and fund the expansion of game-changing and best-in-class digital businesses.
“In 2014, I launched ADIF (Axiata Digital Innovation Fund) here. I am told that this is now the third of such fund to be launched by Axiata and this is indeed most commendable,” he said.
Earlier, Axiata Group Bhd Group President/Chief Executive Officer, Tan Sri Jamaludin Ibrahim, in his speech, said Axiata was not just a Malaysian company but a flag-bearer for Malaysia on the international front.
“Our investment in Sri Lanka is, in many ways, an excellent testimony of how an investment in one country has significantly benefited both Axiata and Dialog and in turn, the two nations,” he said.
At a separate event later, Najib signed a commemorative plaque for Hyrax Oils Sdn Bhd lubricant blending plant in Sri Lanka.