KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysians will see Jack Ma more often in the next few years as China’s e-commerce giant plans to fulfil his responsibilities as a “good” adviser to the Malaysian Government on digital economy.
The 52-year-old founder and executive chairman of Alibaba Group made the promise during a meet-the-press session.
He will also bring more partners here to work with Malaysia. For this trip, he brought along 16 Chinese logistics companies whose businesses account for 43% of the world’s deliveries.
Ma was in Malaysia to launch Malaysia’s Digital Free Trade Zone (DFTZ) with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak on Wednesday, four months after both of them had met in Beijing. He also spoke at the Global Transformation Forum (GTF) 2017 yesterday.
He said Najib had accepted his invitation to visit his hometown and Alibaba headquarters in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, before attending the Belt and Road summit in Beijing this May.
Ma considered his talk at GTF as part of his “job” as adviser to the Government.
“I hope my speech can make people start to think. If 10 people start to think differently, these people will make Malaysia different,” he said.
Asked about whether it is a paid role, Ma said: “I don’t know, I don’t think so. I don’t want this kind of pay. It is my honour.”
Alibaba Group and its affiliated firms are participating in four segments of the DFTZ, namely e-fulfilment hub, e-service platform, e-payment and financing, and e-talent development.
Under a memorandum of understanding signed, Alibaba Group’s units will work with Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd to develop a regional e-commerce and logistics hub in KLIA Aeropolis.
This will position Malaysia as a key sourcing and fulfilment hub for small and medium businesses.
The Malaysian Government has allocated a piece of land to Alibaba to set up this e-hub, which will make it easier for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Malaysia to participate in international trade.
Alibaba will also explore e-payment and financing opportunities to facilitate business-to-business trade.
Ma said he expected to launch Alipay in Malaysia soon, but stressed that it was not to occupy the local market but to push for Malaysia to be an inclusive, transparent cashless society.
It is also to enable young people to have more opportunities to trade.
On Alibaba’s ventures here, Ma said: “The Malaysian companies will belong to Malaysians, and they will be owned and operated by Malaysians.
“This is why we plan to send more Malaysians to China for training.”
On the total investment allocated by Alibaba Group for its Malaysian venture, Ma did not reveal the exact figure, but said it was about investment of commitment, talent, technology and know-how.
“What Malaysia needs is technology, the way people think and do business. We are not only working here with the Government and the people, we also work with China to open more doors to Malaysian products and young people,” he said.
Ma said Alibaba had prepared “a big fund” for the group’s Electronic World Trade Programme initiative – which the e-hub in Malaysia is a part of – but the specific amount would be decided stage by stage.
Ma, who speaks fluent English, was clearly the star attraction at GTF 2017.
At the GTF 2017 talk earlier, where attendees lined up to ask him questions, Ma elaborated on empowering young people and SMEs in this third wave of technology revolution.
He observed the people who succeed are optimistic: “They never complain.”
“When people complain, they lose opportunities. They blind their minds,” he said, using his palm to cover his eyes.
Ma’s advice to the audience is to teach culture and values to their children as with these things, “humans can always win the machine”.
“Education should focus on imagination, creativity and teamwork.
“We should teach our kids sports, music, and painting.
“If we do not change the way we educate, we are going to be in big trouble. Our kids will always complain,” he said.
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