Go online, Dr Mahathir tells Covid-19 hit business owners mulling closure

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said harnessing technology to move their business forward in areas like delivery of goods and communications could widen their customer reach as they were no longer limited to physical brick-and-mortar shops. — Picture by Miera Zulyana
Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said harnessing technology to move their business forward in areas like delivery of goods and communications could widen their customer reach as they were no longer limited to physical brick-and-mortar shops. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

KUALA LUMPUR, June 3 — Former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad urged business owners sinking under the pressures of the Covid-19 pandemic to develop an online presence instead of shuttering.

He said harnessing technology to move their business forward in areas like delivery of goods and communications could widen their customer reach as they were no longer limited to physical brick-and-mortar shops.

As an example, he pointed that many restaurants have linked up with GrabFood for deliveries.

“Don’t stop. Find out how you can do and sell under the present circumstance. What is the present circumstance?

“Business online is going to catch on and in the future even when there is no pandemic, we will use this online trading much more.

“And new business will be based on transportation, healthy good transportation and our communication, our ability to talk to our customers like I am talking to you.

“This is the new way of marketing. Don’t wait for the customer to come. There must be new ways of doing business under the circumstances.

“If you can’t cook, you can do something else,” he told host Natalie Sit in the Live Talk session organised by Creative Cloud Community Malaysia today.

Dr Mahathir said current online communications and transport technology also allow businesses to expand their market outside of the country.

He said that while the needs of locals might be limited, businesses can expand if they can identify demands for markets outside of their place.

“What’s fantastic now is the whole world has become your market. It is no longer confined to your town or nearby areas.

“I know of one person who makes cakes, he or she used to sale cakes to local coffee shops but the sales was not very good.

“When she sells online, her market extends from Malaysia to the Middle East and she has 90,000 customers,” he said.

Dr Mahathir also commented on the automation and robots which also provide new avenues for business for entrepreneurs in the country.

He said that as 3D printing machines are also becoming cheaper than before, Malaysian businesses could use it to make tools, spare parts and goods and create an entirely new market.

“As more and more factories will use automatic machines or robots they will need programmers so learning programming is more important.

“3D printing business, where you can print many things. Nowadays they can also print metal. The only problem is that it takes time. This is another area that we can go into because there are a lot of opportunities.

“Nowadays machines are very cheap,” he said.

Regarding this, Dr Mahathir also agreed that industrial certification has become more important than just academic qualifications for the young people to pursue.

He said that his medical school days also proved that having the skills is essential than just learning theories in doing his job.

“Yes. You ask the Germans who are more concerned of skills to do things rather than theory,” he said, referring to Germany’s known emphasis in industrial education institution

“I was a doctor. The idea of learning about the human body terrifies me. But when I learn on a body, you learn where to cut and if you cut here you can see the organs.

“If I read about things, I could not understand it but having dissected the cadaver, I remember exactly where the organs are, its shape and its colour,” he said.

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