Public-private partnership to accelerate Malaysia’s economic recovery in new normal

MDEC organised a one-hour webinar with experts from the World Bank and the National Tech Association of Malaysia (PIKOM) to discuss the push for the acceleration of the digital economy and fast-track digital economic growth to welcome investors as Malaysia prepares itself for a sturdy post Covid-19 recovery.

The panellists at this webinar titled, “Pre and Post Covid-19: Malaysia’s Digital Economy As A New Driver of Development” were Surina Shukri, CEO of MDEC; Siddhartha Raja, Senior Specialist for Technology and Jobs, World Bank and Smita Kuriakose, Senior Economist, World Bank.

The session was moderated by Ganesh Kumar Bangah, Immediate Past Chairman of PIKOM. MDEC, mandated with leading the digital economy forward, is now focused on accelerating its development through public-private partnerships (PPP) to increase collaboration between public and private sectors, thus driving impact at scale through input from the private sector.

In its bid to address the challenges triggered by Covid-19 and to accelerate the economy
post-correction, Malaysia sees that close public-private dialogue can be facilitated with the
public and private sectors, so that the private sector feedback can serve the government in
agile policy-making, especially to identify the most pressing needs of SMEs and MSMEs.

Recently, MDEC’s CEO, Surina Shukri, presented to the Economic Action Council (EAC) on
accelerating the digital economy post Covid-19, specifically suggesting the need to not only look at infrastructure, but also applications and services that touch businesses, as well as the need for a digitally-savvy society.

“The only way to accelerate development of the digital economy is to accelerate private and
public partnerships to drive impact at scale. The EAC has a significant private sector
representation. So, the spirit of private-public partnerships is something we are taking seriously. As the country is now reopening the economy and working towards economic
recovery, we welcome investors who are looking to expand their digital investments in
Malaysia. It is, after all, a choice springboard to deep dive into ASEAN markets and beyond,” said Surina.

World Bank’s Smita Kuriakose stated, “We could learn from MDEC’s experience in the Digital Free trade Zone (DFTZ)”, when attributing Malaysia’s availability of solid basic infrastructure capabilities and logistic services as facilitators to the development of the e-commerce sector.

Also deliberated in the webinar was the benefit of e-commerce related public-private
partnerships which when extended across B40 and rural communities, present opportunities to skill people and save jobs.

World Bank’s Siddhartha Raja stated, “In terms of affordability, Malaysia does quite well
when it comes to basic internet services, coverage and infrastructure. Malaysia has already
invested in a certain level of infrastructure and has the right momentum to develop its
digital economy. For the longer term, Malaysia could consider PPPs to improve higher
speeds and services coverage, especially for rural areas.”

“As Malaysia recovers from the impact of the global pandemic, it is also returning some
level of confidence to foreign investors. Already acknowledged as the location of choice for
many Fortune 500 and digital tech companies, our digitally accelerated country is well-
positioned to be the heart of digital ASEAN, primarily due to its dynamic ecosystem; resilient and talented workforce; and robust digital infrastructure,” concluded Surina.


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