Malaysian Budget Allocation in Tech Sector Well-Received

Following the budget announcement last week, the tech industry saw an increased allocation for 2021. Despite some grievances on allocations towards certain sectors like the allocation for JASA, the overall budget allocated to the tech industry was well-received by all parties.

The cybersecurity industry in Malaysia, in particular, was glad that RM27 million has been allocated to CyberSecurity Malaysia to heighten cybersecurity in the country. CyberSecurity Malaysia Chief Executive Officer Datuk Dr Amirudin Abdul Wahab regarded the government's initiative as recognition in an effort to prevent the threat of cybercrime and at the same time, ensure a safe and conducive cybersecurity infrastructure in Malaysia.

He said, based on data from the Cyber999 Aid Centre, which was operated by CyberSecurity Malaysia, 9,042 reports had been lodged up to last month, compared with 8,770 last year. He said the three most reported cases were fraud, intrusion and malicious code.

"With the current level of risk, types of threats and the number of cyber attacks that occurred, cybersecurity approaches need to be implemented holistically involving individuals, processes and technologies that are effective at reducing the risk of cyber attacks, as well as protecting the network system and technology itself".

A few weeks earlier, the Malaysian government launched the Malaysian Cyber Security Strategy 2020 – 2024. The RM27 million allocation for 2021 is part of the RM1.8 billion allocated throughout the period to step up national cybersecurity preparedness, especially with cybercrime increasing in the country.

“Technology is like a double-edged sword, especially in terms of security as cybercriminals are leveraging on newer technologies to cause more havoc and bring more challenges to everyone”, he added.

Another tech allocation included in the announcement for the 2021 Budget is RM9.4 billion to develop the national digital strategy across industry sectors and the people which are seen as capable of closing the digital gap holistically.

The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission said the allocation would be able to provide a better telecommunication infrastructure with the Prihatin Network programme and National Digital Network Initiative (Jendela). 

Catherine Lian, IBM Malaysia Managing Director said, "Due to rising demand for digital tools and processes, there is an urgent need for people to upskill themselves with knowledge of digital technologies coupled with digital literacy and transferable skills".

She added that emphasis should also be placed on emerging roles due to a shortage of qualified talent within Malaysia and the region as a whole.

"There is a growing demand for emerging roles like data analysts together with artificial intelligence (AI), machine-learning, robotics and cybersecurity specialists", said Catherine.

At its end, IBM would continue to play a nation-building role while doing its part to transform Malaysia into a high-income nation through the socialisation of transformative technologies. IBM would continue to collaborate actively on public-private partnerships to ensure that the public sector also gets the support they need to develop their digital capabilities fully.

Improving the National Digital Framework
JENDELA sees an RM42 million allocation to increase coverage quality in 25 industrial areas, which was lauded by industry players.

Adlan Tajudin, Chief Executive Officer, edotco Group said, “We are encouraged by the government’s allocations for the implementation of the JENDELA initiative alongside the RM7.4 billion being allocated for wider broadband coverage across the nation for the next two years. Efforts to extend connectivity and improve existing coverage, be it 3G or 4G are crucial stepping stones in creating an agile and future-ready telecommunications infrastructure industry. Industry-wide collaboration between the government, Mobile Network Operators, regulators, local authorities and the private sector will be crucial to driving the recovery and advancement of the telecommunications sector for Malaysia”.

He added as a home-grown regional integrated telecommunications infrastructure services company in Asia, edotco has the capability and expertise in telecommunications infrastructure planning and deployment to deliver future-proof networks.

Echoing him was David Hägerbro, Head of Ericsson Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. He commented, “Ericsson strongly supports the government’s efforts to upgrade network connections across 430 schools within the country across all states with RM500 million from JENDELA. Additionally, the MCMC assignment of RM7.4 billion in 2021 to 2022 to expand broadband connectivity is a sure step in the right direction for quality coverage”.

Ericsson believes that the successful rollout of 5G hinges on the great incentives and provisions within the 2021 Budget. This will pave the way for the government, businesses and citizens to deliver groundbreaking solutions to the pandemic, that can reach all levels of society.
Embracing Digitalisation
For Trend Micro, the emphasis on digital technologies and upgrading telecommunication networks will propel Malaysia further, accommodating the needs of our digital lifestyles while spurring economic growth for our nation.
“We commend the efforts to provide a stable internet connection for students in tertiary institutions by upgrading the Malaysian Research and Education Network (MYREN) access from 500Mbps to 10Gbps and the Skim BSN MyRInggit-i COMSIS laptop computer loan scheme that will support students in the new normal of digital learning”, said Goh Chee Hoh, Managing Director, Trend Micro Malaysia and Nascent Countries.
Albert Chai, Managing Director, Cisco Malaysia commended the focused measures to accelerate digital transformation in various areas and industries, including the emphasis on IR4.0 technologies such as automation in the commodity and SME sector. This includes the allocation of RM1 billion under the Industry Digitalisation Transformation Scheme and additional RM150 million under the SME Digitalisation Scheme Grant and Automation Grant that will spur the manufacturing and labour-intensive industries to rethink their strategies as reliance on human capital decreases, the impact of border control measures continues and market demands changes.
He added, “Moving forward, we believe digital transformation readiness will be especially critical for the SMB sector to encourage operators and owners to turn what was started as stop-gap measures into long-term gains. As we foresee the sector’s continued digitalisation potentially adding between US$19 to US$24 billion (RM79 billion to RM99 billion) to the country’s GDP by 2024, we welcome the additional funding and incentives that continue to support SMEs along their recovery path while spurring the pace of their technology adoption and digitalisation. At the technological front, Cisco remains committed to making available products and solutions specifically for the SMB segment under the Cisco Designed portfolio including offering a 0% SMB financing plan for Malaysian businesses”.
Interestingly, Eric Quah, Country Manager for Red Hat Malaysia said, “Working closely with our customers across various industry verticals, we have seen how digitalisation efforts can help build long-term productivity. We are optimistic about the investment the government is making in digitalisation, which represents an opportunity to support Malaysia’s long-term economic growth. However, organisations riding the wave of transformation will need to have an open and flexible IT foundation that can support new technologies, such as edge computing and AI”.
He believes with the provision of an additional RM150 million under the SME Business Digitalisation Grant to support automation and digitalisation of SMEs, organisations now have more ways to realise their digital transformation and innovation agenda.
“Open-source gives organisations the tools to remain agile and thrive in a world of rapid change. Red Hat is committed to helping organisations create a culture that’s more collaborative, secure and effective in order to effectively transform, modernise, and optimise their IT infrastructure”, he concluded.

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