Your 10 questions with Datuk Badlisham Ghazali


  • Business
  • Saturday, 02 Apr 2011

It seems that MSC status companies may soon have to charge Goods & Services Tax. Doesn't this contravene the Bill of Guarantees which offers competitive incentives such as tax breaks to these companies? Do you think GST will encourage or discourage e-commerce in Malaysia? Peter Chen, Ipoh

GST will not make much of a difference for companies promoting e-commerce businesses as all types of businesses will be required to impose GST on their customers/clients, once enforced by the Government.

While we have e-commerce trade and activities, they are still relatively small compared to other countries. I'd like to point out that the more pressing issue here is not whether the imposition of GST will be a hurdle, but for the entire ecosystem to find greater opportunities in encouraging the uptake of e-commerce options and services.

How are broadband service providers in Malaysia upgrading the skills and knowledge of their employees? Bernard KH Lim, Penang

Malaysia is headed in the right direction. The process of increasing the talent pool has already begun. Broadband service providers have their specific initiatives when it comes to skills upgrade development.

Looking at how aggressive the current marketplace is, I'm certain that a more enabled workforce is a priority. The good news is with more providers, we will have more talents entering this space, and this will inevitably lead to higher standards.

On our end, MDeC is driving various programmes to step up efforts to strengthen Malaysia's ICT talent pool as required for our economic transformation by addressing specific talent-related issues within the ICT industry. This will create a virtuous cycle. When employees have become well prepared for their roles, companies will spend less time and resources on internal training.

How does the Government plan to lure local multimedia talents and experts who have gone abroad? Tabitha CC Boi, Penang

Under Phase 3 of MSC Malaysia, we are ensuring that there is good visibility on the exact number of talents required for the various ICT sectors, via the creation and maintenance of a demand and supply database. We'll also look into creating a Talent Centre of Excellence as well as promote greater industry-academia collaboration, to ensure that the expertise produced, matches the specific industry needs.

The Government is increasing its efforts to lure back local experts who are abroad and this is reflected clearly by the establishment of the Talent Corp under the Prime Minister's Department. In order to incentivise our local experts to return home to Malaysia, the Government has introduced various benefits, one of which is tax exemption for their personal effects.

For several economic growth corridors, technology does not take centre stage. How has this affected MSC Malaysia in general and MDeC in particular? Lai En Foo, Selangor

What we do in MDeC is always complementary to what the corridors are focusing on. Due to our unique rural and urban makeup, Malaysia in general has different weak areas (consumer and business adoption, connectivity, low R&D spending) that require different approaches.

The establishment of the different corridors also gives us the advantage of specialisation and enables us to focus on different niches. The Iskandar Malaysia development region, for example, which has a focus on the creative content industry, has drawn Pinewood Studios and the ancillary business that will come with it.

Malaysia has embarked on the transformative use of ICT for some time now. We have many initiatives driven by different agencies and ministries from ICT-enabled NKRAs, e-Sovereignty to R&D.

These efforts are put in place to help the Malaysian ICT industry evolve from a mass market, low- to mid-value products and services landscape to a more niche, high-value products and services model that can fast-track our economy up the value chain.

Could you shed some light on the recent internal restructuring and reorganisation in MDeC? Joanne Yee, KL

The recent restructuring in MDeC is designed to make the entire organisation better equipped to achieve our goals set for the final and Phase 3 of MSC Malaysia.

In Phase 1, we were able to successfully build MSC Malaysia with Cyberjaya as a central corridor. In Phase 2, we focused on capacity building and created economies of scale. MSC Malaysia's value creation in Phase 2 has contributed RM35.7bil to the national GDP, attracted FDI investments worth RM27.8bil and created 83,841 high value jobs, with an average salary of RM4,542 per month.

MSC Malaysia Phase 3 is the final decisive push from MDeC to carry the nation forward to a fully-developed, high income economy by 2020. We will focus more on the infusion of ICT into economic sectors and societies. By 2020, we aim to have the following impact:

● Malaysia as a vibrant hub for creation of ICT solutions, leading to net exporter status

● Infusion of technology across all economic sectors to drive productivity and innovation

● Pervasive use of ICT to increase quality of life across all communities

The serious initiatives put forward by the Government to bridge the digital divide are evidently ongoing. How have the masses responded to these? Syamsul, Bangi

The digital divide is a “burning issue” that will remain a topic of keen interest for years to come. It's interesting that you mentioned the demand side of things, as demand for infrastructure facilities and platforms, such as broadband networks, will continue to be high.

We have more than doubled our broadband penetration rate in two years, from 22% in 2008 to over 55% as of late last year and more than 60% early this year.

With this divide in mind, we recognise the phases of acceptance that comes with increased digital penetration among the public access, first; information usage, second; and base services come soon after.

Our resolve in MDeC in terms of addressing the digital divide is an understanding of how the future, driven by access and devices, will impact our economy.

There is no doubt that a more digital population will result in multiplier growth of the demand for more online services. We want to be there when it happens. In fact, it is happening Now.

There's really no culture and pool of talents in IT entrepreneurship in Malaysia like in the Silicon Valley, especially among the youth. Why? Sharon H. Chan, KL

On the contrary, while we may not be on par with the likes of Silicon Valley just yet, IT entrepreneurship is alive and growing in Malaysia. Under the New Economic Model (NEM) for Malaysia, the Prime Minister has earmarked entrepreneurship as the key driver of the economy for the next 10 years with special emphasis on innovation and the entrepreneurial drive of its citizens.

Another good thing is we recognise that the entrepreneurship culture has to be developed even from the earliest academic opportunity. Hence, our efforts in place are tied back to institutions of higher learning (IHL) collaborations and funding potential start-ups. Examples of these include the MSC Malaysia IHL Business Plan Competition (MIBPC). Now into its 7th year, MIBPC stems from MDeC's mandate to produce ICT entrepreneurs or technopreneurs as they are fondly known amongst industry players.

MIBPC in essence is about developing students' talent and competencies as they explore technopreneurship and set the tone for the nation's ICT culture in the future. I am very encouraged to see an increase in participation from IHL students this year. A total of 383 Business Ideas and 99 Business Plans were generated from 46 institutions of higher learning. This is a 45% increase compared to last year.

What is the most important thing to you and what really makes you happy? Alvin, Johor Baru

From a professional perspective, I am glad to have played a role in paving the way for a changed (and still changing) Malaysian mindset one that is driven to be more creative and innovative in doing business.

On a personal note, I am blessed with a gorgeous wife and two loving daughters. They inspire me to be a better person everyday.

When will KL be fully connected online like in developed cities namely Hong Kong and Singapore? Mashita Ali, KL

We are on our way to transforming into the digital economy and being fully connected has been integrated in the plan as well. The broadband penetration rate in Malaysia reached 57.1% in February 2011, while the target for this year is 60%. This means that the growth of broadband users is increasing and the demand will continue to rise in Malaysia.

Over the past five years, we've seen outstanding proof that put us on the fast-track as a better wired nation: WifiKL, improved 3G, Wimax, Unifi, and even IPTV. More initiatives in the pipeline are also being reflected in the Greater KL plan of the Economic Transformation Programme.

There is a lot of potential in our local creative industry but it seems like it is not fully tapped. What is MDec doing in promoting the creative industry? Gerald, Penang

MSC Malaysia, through its strategic initiatives, is striving to turn the creative multimedia industry into one of the main engines of growth for Malaysia by engaging creative multimedia companies and individuals to spearhead the use of digital technologies to produce high quality creative content.

There are numerous programmes that MDeC has in place to help identify, develop and up-skill the creative talent in the country, some of which are as follows:

● MSC Malaysia Intellectual Property Creator's Challenge Series

● Next Gen Contentpreneur Awards

● X|Media|Lab Mentorship Programme

● Train the Trainers programme for lecturers

● Master classes e.g. Shawn Kelly and Pixar master class

● IHL Panel sessions

● Creative Roundtable Dialogue Series

● Cerita Rakyat Malaysia

● Digital Storytelling

● MAC3 Rendering Farm

● Co-Production Funding

● Integrated Content Development Programme Grants

● Graduate Trainee Programme and UGRAD grants

● Kre8tif!

The Government has established a RM200mil Creative Industry Fund to promote the local creative industry. While RM119mil has been allocated under the MY Creative Content Programme for the multimedia creative content industry, it has also recently increased funding for the sector and has initiated a special programme called the MAC3 or the Multimedia Creative Content Centre which provides funding for co-production opportunities for animation, games and visual effects development. The GDP contribution from Malaysia's creative industries stands at around 1.5%.

Coming soon

TAN SRI DR MUNIR MAJID, currently chairman of Malaysia Airlines, was the first executive chairman of the Securities Commission between 1993 and 1999. His interesting and colourful career path also include being the group editor of the New Straits Times and executive chairman of CIMB. Any burning questions for him? Email 10questions@thestar.com.my

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