PETALING JAYA: Malaysia is targeting to be an Industry 4.0 hub in South-East Asia to regain its status as an Asian Tiger.
Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said there was no choice but to be aggressive in adopting Industrial Revolution 4.0 in view of the accelerated speed in which new technologies evolved.
"With our National Policy on Industry 4.0 (Industry4WRD) launched last year, we aim at driving Malaysia towards becoming the Industry 4.0 hub in South-East Asia," he said.
He said this in his keynote address at the International Conference on Industry 4.0: A Global Revolution Towards Business, Technology and Productivity at Segi University Monday (Oct 14).
Dr Mahathir said digital transformation was expected to accelerate a sustainable future for Malaysia, as Industry 4.0 could lead to an increase in the GDP per capita following increased productivity and employment opportunities.
"Our Industry4WRD policy aims at increasing productivity in the manufacturing sector per person in Malaysia by 30% from RM106,647.
"This would elevate the absolute contribution of the manufacturing sector to our economy by 54% from RM254bil to RM392bil," he said.
Dr Mahathir said while new technologies could be disruptive, it also boast exciting prospects and challenges.
Following consolidation of Operation Technology and Information Technology (IT), data analytics, process understanding, and the ability to work with disruptive technologies, Industry 4.0 would transform the labour market into a skill-centric force.
Technologies such as the Internet of Things, Advanced Robotics, Artificial Intelligence and Additive Manufacturing are contributing factors to generate an increase in net productivity, he said.
"Hence, to make the adoption of Industry 4.0 a success, a sustainable approach has to be taken to ensure continuous growth of the economy.
"These transformations will not take effect unless we take the first step and our strategy has to be right.
"We need to take the Industry 4.0 transformation seriously. That way we can remain competitive and relevant in the international equation," he said.
Malaysia is poised to succeed, as it boast 40 years of experience in the manufacturing sector, apart from having created a good business ecosystem.
Malaysia could capitalise on its existing supply chain, access to the global market, and pool of talented multi-racial and multi- cultural community, said Dr Mahathir.
"For Malaysian businesses to remain competitive, they need to change their business strategy.
"We are sometimes too operational oriented to deliver results.
"Often, we are too conservative to venture into business diversifications and product development.
"This kind of business mentality and culture has to change," he said.
Dr Mahathir called on Malaysian businesses to seriously look into investing much more in Research and Development (R&D) to upgrade products and services, apart from improving business processes and embracing integrated technologies.
"We need to change our strategy from being technology traders and users to becoming technology creators," he said.
Dr Mahathir also called on universities to focus on developing their R&D capabilities in solving real industry problems.
He said that Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) should also be technology driven.
The Malaysian education system is currently being aligned to the economic needs of the nation, he noted.
"The focus on the teaching of industrial skills ought to be skewed towards innovative knowledge," he said.
There must be a push towards innovative thinking and multi-disciplinary knowledge, as Malaysia aimed to increase its high-skilled workforce from 18% to 35% by the year 2020.