PENANG must continue to attract top quality investments to create high-income jobs while supporting home-grown entrepreneurs to manufacture globally competitive products.
InvestPenang director Datuk Seri Lee Kah Choon said the state had to do both using its manufacturing excellence in the electrical and electronics (E&E) industry as the base.
“In other words, apart from being a global manufacturing hub in the E&E industry, Penang has to be an international innovation hub as well.
“To achieve this vision, the state should set up a billion- ringgit industry investment fund to invest in these innovative businesses and nurture them to be global players.
“For a Penang global innovation hub to succeed, the talent pool has to grow. Currently, it is clearly too small,” he said in a recent press statement.
Lee said whether Penang progresses or regresses in the great reset would depend on its strategic decision today.
“To thrive on the great reset, Penang needs bold initiatives to achieve a different outcome.
“A net growth of 30,000 knowledge workers per year to the state’s talent pool is a must.
“The ‘same old, same old’ mentality is not an option in this challenging time.
“According to Bloomberg’s Covid resilience ranking, Malaysia plunged from 16th to 51st placing out of the 53 countries surveyed.
“The various lockdowns since March 2020 and the inability to surmount the pandemic challenges have seriously eroded the confidence of the investors who are already here.”
Lee said with this, the effort of attracting investments would be harder in the years to come.
“While Malaysia is having political skirmishes, the confluence of the pandemic and trade war is shaping a new world order.
“As more automation and digitisation are adopted in the workplace, more jobs are expected to be replaced by robots and artificial intelligence technology which are very efficient.
“As a result, fewer traditional jobs will be created.
“While the pandemic has accelerated the adoption of these new technologies, a few trends emerged.”
He said the trends include the shifting of human resources to adapt to the new technologies, meaning new skills need to be acquired by the workforce.
“Cost equalisation of production locations will intensify as well, where investment location will shift towards availability of talent and supply chain instead of labour and land costs.
“More manufacturing and supply chains will move near-shore and on-shore for political considerations and to ensure supply chain security.
“This means regionalisation will be more prevalent going forward, like the North American Free Trade Agreement involving the US, Canada and Mexico and China with adjacent South-East Asian countries such as Myanmar, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.”
Lee said the international border lockdown initially opened up opportunities for Malaysia to tap into the disrupted supply chain.
“But the prolonged border lockdown shut the window of opportunities for Malaysian companies as other alternatives are found and engaged.
“The ‘Made in China 2025’ strategy is a great opportunity for Malaysian companies to be part of the supply chain but it will become a serious threat to Malaysia if we miss the boat.
“Once the supply chain and ecosystem are set in place, it will be difficult for outsiders to penetrate later.”
Lee said the pandemic and trade war presented the state with great opportunities as well as dangers.
“Penang is well-positioned to seize the opportunities by tapping into the disrupted supply chains that were closed to us previously.
“But time is of the essence as this window of opportunity is closing fast.
“While the state attracts investments for high-quality jobs, there must be support for our home-grown entrepreneurs as well, all while using its E&E industry as base.”