Harnessing Malaysia’s creative industry

Untapped potential: Liew says the local creative industry is often overlooked despite the abundance of talent in the country.

GIVEN his passion for design works, Bagman Corp Sdn Bhd founder and chief executive officer Datuk Liew Bin is naturally a big fan of creative talent and understands the value of intangible assets such as intellectual properties.

Liew, who established his own bag brand Terminus about seven years ago, laments that the local creative industry is often overlooked despite the abundance of talent in the country and potential for the sector to flourish in Malaysia.

Understanding of the potential in this sector is still largely low, he says.

Liew believes that for a small country like Malaysia, competing to have a stake in the heavy industry sector and in the high-tech segment such as artificial intelligence may not be a viable option as these industries require mass market access to be successful.

Looking to our creative side may, perhaps, provide us with more opportunities. Additionally, Malaysia has a rich multicultural heritage to draw from in creating good content.

“The global creative industry, which encompasses profession or industries that uses soft skills including creative designs, gaming, fashion and other intellectual talent products, is worth around US$2 trillion annually. Developing these intellectual ventures can be equally lucrative and more compatible with a small country like Malaysia,” he says.

While the creative industry is slowly gaining traction, Liew notes that there is still room to address gaps that would enable the industry to grow.

“Malaysia is a multicultural and multiracial nation and this has inspired and influenced many local artists and designers. But there is still a huge gap in the market where content creation is concerned, especially for our local producers, to garner well-deserved recognition internationally,” says Liew.

It is often said that Malaysia is one of the countries well known for producing world class talents in various fields only to see them flourish in foreign countries or markets. This includes talents in the creative industry.

If Malaysia can fully harness the potential in the sector, there is bound to be a lucrative return for the industry.

Pointing to the success of Malaysia’s creative industry on the international stage, Liew notes that there have been notable achievements by locals in various areas including in vocal and performing arts, movies and animation and fashion and design. An example of some success stories, particularly in the fashion segment, include Neelofah and Fashion Valet.

“Creativity is what we, Malaysians, have in abundance. What we ought to figure out is how to turn these talents into sustainable economies,” says Liew.

Figures from the government-backed MyCreative Venture seems to point to a growing creative industry. It reported that there are some 11,000 professionals currently involved in Malaysia’s creative content and technology industry.

Most of these professionals are involved in key creative segments, such as animation, games, visual effects and new media, multimedia assets for apps, and content-enabled delivery platforms. Companies in this space had an export value of RM1.2bil in 2016 alone, making it the fastest growing technology marketplace in the last three years, according to MyCreative.

But for Liew, one of the main concerns for Malaysia in its quest for excellence in the creative industry is the lack of cultural openness in our society, which could be a hindrance for local creative talents to thrive. If the creative industry is allowed the freedom to push the limits, it will certainly be one of the main pillars of the country’s economy, he says.

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