New MDEC chief pushes for Malaysia 5.0 concept

Rais argued that Malaysia 5.0 can contribute to a more sustainable and circular economy, where greater well-being is possible for all citizens regardless of age, ethnicity and class. — Picture by Hari Anggara
Rais argued that Malaysia 5.0 can contribute to a more sustainable and circular economy, where greater well-being is possible for all citizens regardless of age, ethnicity and class. — Picture by Hari Anggara

KUALA LUMPUR, June 16 — Newly-appointed Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) chairman Datuk Rais Hussin has called for the concept of Malaysia 5.0 as a new narrative for the country.

He said the narrative will posit Malaysia as an innovation economy that can compete in a disruptive technology world, serve as a springboard into the Asean region, a bridge between Asia, Middle East and Africa, and interconnect with the 1.8 billion Islamic population worldwide.

“MDEC will no doubt play a leading role in introducing emerging technologies which are essential tools in the new Malaysia 5.0 digital economy. If such a policy is missing from our national strategy, Malaysia will be left behind and excluded from digital ecosystems and workforces,” Rais said in his inaugural statement.

Touting his personal passion for digital transformation, he referred to his book 4IR: Reinventing a Nation which was co-authored with blockchain expert Dinis Guarda and launched in October last year, is meant to be a blueprint of sorts to assist governments of developing nations in their digital transformation agenda.

 ”Digital transformation presents both challenges and opportunities to us all. Those who succeed can use 4IR technologies to create a better life for all, including new and more meaningful jobs, reskilling of the workforce, better health and education, and smarter and greener cities.

“At the cusp of the 4IR, we are blessed with the chance to re-engineering the human experiment using technologies that decentralise authority and de-emphasise divisions along the lines of color, creed and country — what the Japanese have coined as ‘Society 5.0’,” Rais said.

Describing the term as referring to the next stage of the evolution of societal communities, he said the quest for Society 5.0 is built around the needs of a human-centred society, one which he envisions MDEC as playing a leading role in catalysing this transition for Malaysia and Malaysians.

“Covid-19 has accelerated the migration of society from physical infrastructures onto digital infrastructures, and Society 5.0 holds the promise to converge these environments together through the use of 4IR technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), internet of things (IoT), blockchain and FinTech.

“After months of quarantine, with both companies and households in survival to recovery mode, we are now emerging from a crisis. The ensuing recovery relies largely upon a managed digital transformation into what I have been writing about as ‘Malaysia 5.0’,” Rais said.

To this, the chairman argued that Malaysia 5.0 can contribute to a more sustainable and circular economy, where greater well-being is possible for all citizens regardless of age, ethnicity and class.

“A new initiative which I will propose is a designated hub that interconnects 4IR companies in Malaysia to the rest of the world, with strong regulatory and strategic oversight and direction from MDEC, and aligned with ongoing and newly announced programs such as Prihatin and Penjana.

“Despite the personal and economic pain caused by the pandemic, after months of quarantine, with both companies and households in survival to restart mode, there will ultimately be an end to the crisis. The ensuing recovery is an opportunity to overcome social challenges, improve productivity and create new markets,” he said.

In order for Malaysia to migrate into a high-wage, knowledge-based economy envisioned in the Shared Prosperity Vision (SPV) 2030, Rais said more must be given than lip service to encourage innovation, retrain the workforce, and incentivise investment.

“Even bigger than the risks from an economic downturn is the likelihood that we will revert to the status quo. Working with and learning from my new colleagues at MDEC, I am confident that we can discover new ways of doing things and become more resilient as a society and more robust as an economy,” he said.

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