Malaysia 5.0: A national IR4.0 policy

  • Letters
  • Saturday, 30 May 2020

Between 400 million and 800 million individuals could be displaced by automation and need to find new jobs by 2030 around the world – McKinsey Global Institute

Malaysia 5.0 outlines a problem-solving approach to society's challenges and problems through the deployment and implementation of Fourth Industrial Revolution (IR4.0) technologies, which integrates both physical and digital environments.

The term "Society 5.0" describes the next stage of the evolution of societal communities, following the hunting society (Society 1.0), agricultural society (Society 2.0), industrial society (Society 3.0), and information society (Society 4.0). The key differentiation of Society 5.0 (the digital age) from Society 4.0 (the information age) is the convergence of the virtual world with the physical world.

Covid-19 has accelerated the migration of society from physical infrastructures onto digital infrastructures, but Society 5.0 holds the promise to bring these back together through the use of IR4.0 technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), internet of things (IoT), blockchain and digital assets (FinTech).

A national IR4.0 policy is needed to create a new narrative for Malaysia as an innovation economy that can compete in a disruptive technology world, serve as a springboard into Asean, bridge Asia, the Middle East and Africa, as well as connect with the 1.8 billion Muslims worldwide.

Such a policy will support emerging technologies such as Blockchain, AI, IoT and Robotics, which are all essential tools in the new Malaysia 5.0 digital economy. If such a policy is missing from our national strategy, Malaysia will be left behind and excluded from digital ecosystems and workforces.

Because of its ubiquitous reach, IR4.0 technologies raise all kinds of concerns. With proper guidance, these can be used to create a better life for all – including new and more meaningful jobs, reskilling of the workforce, better health and education, as well as smarter and greener cities.

Malaysia 5.0 can contribute to a more sustainable and circular economy, where greater well-being is possible for all citizens regardless of age, ethnicity, and class. In the face of such major changes, countries have an urgent need to develop a comprehensive policy that enables them to create a more inclusive and caring society for all.

A starting point for a national IR4.0 policy is a designated hub that connects IR4.0 companies in Malaysia to the rest of the world, with strong regulatory and strategic oversight, as well as direction.

The policy framework must be aligned with ongoing programs at Finance Ministry, Communication and Multimedia Ministry, Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation, Malaysian Investment Development Agency, Bank Negara Malaysia, Securities Commission Malaysia (SC), as well as other government and statutory bodies.

Whilst there is a lot of personal and economic pain being caused by the current pandemic and months of quarantine to both companies and households, there will ultimately be an end to the crisis. The ensuing recovery relies largely upon a properly managed acceleration of IR4.0 technologies.

Malaysia 5.0 is an opportunity to pro-actively design the blueprint for converging the digital and physical worlds to overcome social challenges, improve productivity and create new markets. As the dust settles, a new way of doing things will emerge and we will not only become more resilient as a society, but also more robust as a global world economy.

DR RAIS HUSSIN, Petaling Jaya

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