By Datuk TS Hasnul Fadhly Hasan – September 18, 2020 @ 7:59am
New Straits Times
AS we celebrate 63 years of Merdeka and 57 years since the establishment of the Malaysian federation, I can’t help but look back at all the things our nation had accomplished.
Specifically, I’m looking at the critical strides we have taken to transform this nation into a global digital economic contributor.
The Internet first came to our shores in 1987 and we established the first Internet service in the country known as Rangkaian Komputer Malaysia (RangKoM).
It connected universities nationwide to enable researchers to communicate with each other, and was initially used only by academic institutions, government and private agencies.
At the same time, 33 years ago on June 8, 1987, the .MY domain was born. According to the first Malaysian Internet survey in 1995, only one out of every thousand Malaysians had access to the Internet at that time.
This grew to 2.6 per cent of the population by 1998. Today, Malaysia is one of the most digitally connected societies in the world, with more than 90 per cent households having access. I still remember the days of dial-up Internet. Getting connected was a lot slower compared to today’s standard, and trying to browse websites was a test of patience.
Even with the slow speed, it achieved one incredibly important purpose, which was to connect the home to the world. Over the years, the speed had increased significantly, and now, having a connection of a few hundred megabits per second from home has become the norm.
It is incredible how far technology has advanced and how it has changed our nation for the better. Malaysia has been recognised as Southeast Asia’s second most digitally advanced nation on Huawei’s Global Connectivity Index.
Our banking and eCommerce sectors are among the most evolved in the region, ahead of Hong Kong, China and Singapore. The digital economy contributes to a fifth of Malaysia’s economy, wor th more than RM270 billion.
With the rapid growth in digital adoption, the government is determined to drive the agenda forward in ensuring a brighter future. But there is still a lot more work to be done, especially supporting the nation’s micro-small and medium-scale enterprises, which are the future of our digital economy.
Several businesses have yet to make a move to digital. Only 62 per cent of businesses are connected to the Internet, with 46 per cent having fixed broadband and 18 per cent having a web presence of some kind.
This means we must continue our efforts to encourage Malaysians to make the digital leap into the future by breaking down the barriers to adoption. Access to fast, reliable and affordable Internet broadband connectivity is fundamental for growth and innovation of the country.
Having good broadband services and ICT infrastructure is the foundation in transforming the country into a competitive business hub. We are seeing significant progress, including connectivity in rural and remote areas.
The initiative called Jendela that was recently announced by our prime minister is a testament to the country’s focus and aspiration to improve digital communications for Malaysians to compete in the global digital economy.
Most of the digital economy growth is concentrated in urban areas, which increases the digital divide. That is why agencies like MYNIC are tasked with incentivising and encouraging SMEs and micro-SMEs in rural areas to bring their business from offline to online.
This will close the digital divide further. MYNIC is honoured to play a role in Malaysia’s digital economy journey, which goes beyond supporting local businesses, consumers and agencies with their unique Internet brand identity.
At MYNIC, we are focused on training the disabled and rural communities to ensure that nobody is left behind in Malaysia’s digital economy journey.
Our goal is to empower individuals and businesses in embracing digital processes to stay competitive. I have seen firsthand so many individuals taking their business to new heights after going through our training.
It truly goes to show that Malaysians have great products and services that are valuable to customers locally and globally. As a reflection, Malaysia Day is a day for all Malaysians to celebrate on our achievements, and renew our focus and commitment for the future.
I hope we can all come together with a shared vision and goal to strive towards the digital economy. Digitisation is the future, and I look forward to the next chapter in Malaysia’s digital journey.
The writer is chief executive officer of MYNIC