Frankly Speaking: A case of too many cooks?

This article first appeared in The Edge Malaysia Weekly, on September 14, 2020 - September 20, 2020.
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The push for digital transformation is not new. While there has been no lack of initiatives by the government to push this agenda forward, the perception is that there has been a lack of a cohesive national digital transformation action plan thus far. There has certainly been plenty of news coming from various ministries and government agencies. To name some: In June, the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (Mosti) set up a Digital Economic Task Force to drive the digital initiatives of the country. There is also Jendela — the National Digital Infrastructure Plan — announced last month.

More recently, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department for Economic Affairs Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said the government would announce a digital masterplan in October. The latest is the announcement by International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Azmin Ali that the Cabinet has set up a national 4IR and Digital Council to steer the country’s technological development, specifically digitalisation and Fourth Industrial Revolution initiatives.

The reality is that in the next 10 years, digital transformation will be critical to stimulating economic growth, enhancing competitiveness, providing good-paying jobs and creating new economic opportunities. To facilitate this, we need effective enablers that include clear and well-thought-out regulations and legislation. The thing is, there are many agencies and ministries championing this space. Information is flowing in dribs and drabs.

Perhaps, given the need for urgency to push digitalisation on to a faster track, it is time for the government to come up with a clear national vision and strategy. Instead of so many voices, maybe it is time to have a single national digital transformation masterplan driven by one umbrella decision-making body.

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