Technological change in the nation must bring benefit to all, says PM

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's technological transformation, including the rollout of the 5G network infrastructure, will not be sustainable if it does not provide equal benefits to all of the public, says Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

The Prime Minister said that the implementation of such technological change must be fair and bring benefit to all and not just certain segments of society.

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"To me, in the Madani philosophy, it cannot be sustainable if we look purely in terms of technological change, or transformation, without care, concern, and compassion.

"To ensure that every single citizen in this country is given that opportunity. That's why our 5G network made it abundantly clear that it's just not a matter of technology, but it's a matter of ensuring that every single citizen in this country is given the same opportunity," he said during his speech at the closing ceremony of Malaysia ICT Summit 2023 at the Malaysia International Trade and Exhibition Centre (Mitec), on Wednesday (Sept 27).

He explained that such transformation of access and connectivity should benefit even those in the remote areas of the country such as Sabah and Sarawak.

"From the urban squatters, urban poor, to the remotest area in Sabah or Sarawak, must be given that opportunity, and access, and connectivity. Otherwise, to my mind, it is not sustainable," added Anwar.

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Anwar also said that a switch to having a dual 5G network would allow for more effective participation by China's Huawei, providing the nation with a balance of both Western and Eastern technologies.

The government in May had said it would allow a second 5G network to operate from next year to break a monopoly held by a single state-run network, despite concerns from some Western countries that wanted Malaysia to stick to its original plan.

"We in Malaysia... and I believe rightly, decided that while we get the best from the West, we also should benefit the best from the East.

"After extensive discussion... we made the decision to allow for a dual network, and thus the decision for more effective participation by Huawei," added Anwar.

The Prime Minister further stressed that "sustainability should not just benefit the few such as the urban and ruling elites."

"The country, and our federal Constitution, have made abundantly clear that the Malays, the Bumiputras will always be protected.

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"But it is also made clear, that in order for us to succeed, and for a country to mature, we must not use the race card, and must make sure that every single either they are the Malays, or Chinese, or Indians, or Sabahan, or Sarawakian, be given their due rights in this country," he said.

He also reiterated that the government had embarked on several major initiatives to boost transformation including the national digital strategy, but at the same time it requires a new mindset and attitude as well as preparedness for such changes.

"And the pace must also change. We cannot just talk about digital transformation but not touch on how to ease doing business," said the Prime Minister, adding that he had reiterated the same message during Wednesday's Cabinet meeting.

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"We had a Cabinet meeting this morning, and I reiterated a similar message, that we have much potential.

"And thank God, when I was in New York recently, you can sense the enthusiasm and recognition from the potential investors to Malaysia.

"But we will have to respond accordingly, not only through digital transformation, but to make sure that there is ease of doing business," explained Anwar, who was also the Finance Minister.

He said that it was important to have clarity in all of the government's policy which was clearly stressed in the Madani economy frameworks and plans.

"Even in our 12th Malaysia Plan Mid-Term Review (12MP MTR), there was actually a departure from a traditional notion of thinking within a five-year plan to something that is adjusted according to the needs of the time," stressed Anwar.

He said that he would be tabling in Parliament the second Malaysia Madani Budget next month.

"And I believe the issues I have raised here... will be taken into consideration so that we can improve the Madani Budget," he said.

Anwar is expected to table the Budget 2024 in Parliament on Oct 13.

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