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High-tech investment: Are we there yet?

21/06/2019 12:56 PM

By Aishah Afandi

KUALA LUMPUR, June 21 (Bernama) -- Malaysia’s manufacturing capabilities have expanded since the country embarked on industrialisation in the early 1980s, and it has since moved at a rapid pace and is well known as an electrical and electronics (E&E) hub for multiple global multinationals.

Over the years, the landscape of manufacturing has shifted from traditional to high-technology manufacturing aided by artificial intelligence and automation as it requires a high level of precision. 

Malaysia is known as a strategic location for the E&E sector around the world, but are we ready for high-tech investment? 

International Trade and Industry (MITI) Minister Darell Leiking has given his assurance to all investors that Malaysia is indeed ready for it as it has a strong reputation as an E&E hub as well as experience in opening up to tech investments through the years.

He also said that despite the global trade scenario, Malaysia will remain neutral and continue to aspire to be the hub for E&E as well as other businesses.

“Despite the tensions in the global economic environment, we remain optimistic that Malaysia has its strengths to overcome the negativity,” he said. 

In terms of policy and environment, the government is ever ready to embark and assist, as evidenced by the launch of Industry4WRD: National Policy on Industry 4.0 to drive the digital transformation of the manufacturing and related services sectors in Malaysia.

However, the move to the next level of manufacturing can only be realised if the private sector, especially the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), accept the challenge and move up the value chain.

As of May this year, about 300 companies have sought the help of the ministry to gauge their readiness for Industry 4.0.

The ministry has targeted to assist 500 SMEs to undergo the assessment by the end of the year, and support 60 of them by providing a 70:30 matching grant of up to RM500,000 for each firm.

Malaysia Technology Development Corporation (MTDC) chief executive officer Datuk Norhalim Yunus said that Malaysia has the capability to be involved in the high-technology industry. 

“Little did we know that there are a lot of local companies that supply parts to multinationals like Apple, Google, Boeing, Tesla and so on. 

“Hence, from my point of view, I believe that we have great local talent in all sectors needed namely information technology, mechanical engineering as well as technology,” he said. 

Malaysian companies that provide components to the global chain include Composites Technology Research Malaysia (CTRM) which provides parts for both Boeing and Airbus, and home-grown semiconductor company Silterra which supplies chips for Google, Apple and Amazon products, among many others.

MTDC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Khazanah Nasional Bhd, was set up to promote the adoption of technologies by local companies via commercialisation of local research and development (R&D) or acquisition of foreign technologies. 

Norhalim added that these local companies are as competitive as E&E companies from China, Japan and the US.

“We have to believe in ourselves, that we do have the potential and ability to grow further,” he said. 

Perhaps there needs to be more force to propel the adoption of high-technology, knowledge-intensive, high value-added industries to be able to take advantage of the ongoing shift in the manufacturing sector.

Nikkei Asian Review reported that Apple is mulling shifting 15-30 per cent of its capacity out of China amid the trade war, and the countries that are being considered for diversification include Mexico, India, Vietnam, Indonesia and Malaysia.

Malaysia should be ever ready to avail itself of such an opportunity and for that, both the private and public sectors need to walk the talk and redouble their efforts.


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