PRESS COVERAGE
  • The rapid growth of e-commerce is shaping Asia's digital future, with more policies designed to encourage small businesses to go online, according to key speakers at an international forum on technology. Participants on the opening day of the World Digital Economy and Technology Summit 2022, being held in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday and Wednesday, also discussed how the pandemic has led to digital transformation, pushing more people into e-commerce, digital banking, telehealth and online education. An estimated 650 participants attended the WDET on its first day. Top policymakers, diplomats, corporate leaders, academicians, entrepreneurs, innovators, digital practitioners and digital evangelists from 28 countries attended the hybrid format event. WDET was organized by the KSI Strategic Institute for Asia Pacific, the Economic Club of Kuala Lumpur and the Pacific Basin Economic Council, and is supported by the China Daily Asia Leadership Roundtable. Mustapa Mohamed, Malaysia's minister in the Prime Minister's Department for Economic Affairs, and Sandiaga Uno, Indonesia's minister for tourism and creative economy, discussed how their respective countries are helping micro-, small and medium-sized enterprises, or MSMEs, embrace digital commerce and contribute to economic growth. "The widespread use of digital technology has accelerated the pace of globalization, transformed the world economic order, and has also transformed the Malaysian economy," Mustapa said in his keynote address. Mustapa opened WDET's morning session by noting that Southeast Asia is one of the world's fastest-growing internet markets and that "the pandemic has completely changed the digital landscape in Southeast Asia, where 14 million new internet users (were) recorded last year". He said this pushed the "momentum of digitalization to unprecedented heights". 'Quality jobs' Sandiaga, who delivered his speech via video link, said the Indonesian government is building a digital economy to create 4.4 million "new, better quality jobs".He said only 77 percent of 60 million Indonesian MSMEs have connectivity, and less than 23 percent have access to financial capital. N.R. Narayana Murthy, founder and chairman emeritus of one of India's biggest technology companies Infosys, said the Indian government has launched two key initiatives which have "brought digitalization to the help of everybody in general, but to the poor in particular". Murthy said India's introduction of the digital ID system helped in extending direct subsidies to the poor. Another key initiative is the Open Network for Digital Commerce, which will be launched later this year to help small traders go online. Charles Chang, deputy dean of academics and director of the Fintech Research Center at the Fanhai International School of Finance at Shanghai's Fudan University, said almost 90 percent of central banks around the world are developing their own digital currencies and China is taking a very aggressive role.
    2022-06-29
  • HONG KONG - The pandemic has led to rapid digital transformation of the workplace, pushing companies to adapt to the changing demands of both their employees and consumers, according to participants at an international technology forum on June 29. Senior officials, technology experts and top executives in Asia gathered for several panel discussions on the second day of the World Digital Economy and Technology Summit 2022 (WDET). Participants said the enforcement of social distancing and travel restrictions has compelled businesses to rely more on online sales and mobile applications to better serve their customers. At the same time, the work-from-home trend and pandemic-induced anxieties have encouraged workers to upgrade their skills and prioritize their mental health. WDET was being held in Kuala Lumpur on June 28-29. The event was organized by the KSI Strategic Institute for Asia Pacific, the Economic Club of Kuala Lumpur and the Pacific Basin Economic Council, with support from the China Daily Asia Leadership Roundtable. Ahmad Amzad Hashim, Malaysia’s deputy minister of science, technology and innovation, said Southeast Asia is the world’s fastest-growing internet market and Malaysia is taking the lead in the region’s digital consumption, prioritizing digital development and attracting digital talent. “Digital economy, which has been growing in leaps and bounds in recent months, is expected to make up 22.6 percent of Malaysia’s gross domestic product and create 500,000 jobs by the year 2025,” Ahmad Amzad said in his closing remarks. For Rita Irina Abdul Wahab, vice-president for public affairs and communications for Huawei Malaysia, “the only way right now is to go digital”. The Huawei executive was one of the participants in the panel discussion on the future of work. She said that with more people embracing technology, companies will need “good digital talents”. This is why Huawei has partnered with Malaysian universities to establish information and communication technology academies that can train more ICT professionals. Sumitra Nair, senior vice-president for strategy and policy at the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation, said the pandemic has boosted demand for digital talent. In Southeast Asia, industries like banking, renewable energy and biotech are recruiting engineers, data scientists and specialists in human resources analytics. The need for “upscaling and rescaling (one’s skills) is becoming more evident”, said Anthony Raja Devadoss, managing director and senior client partner at the global consulting firm Korn Ferry. But Devadoss also said the rate of employee burnout has “increased tremendously”, forcing employees to implement lifestyle changes to ensure that their duties do not harm their mental health. “Top of mind” for any organization is its employees’ well-being, he said. “Highly engaged and productive employees can produce 50 percent better results. Every dollar spent on an employee for wellness delivers better six-to-one in terms of results.” Aadrin Azly, chief digital officer at Malaysia’s state-owned oil and gas company Petronas, in a panel discussion on corporate survival in the digital era, said “corporate survivability” will depend on the company’s ability to change and make quick decisions. “You need data, you need information, you need to be safe and secure,” he said, noting this is why digital technology is important. He added that Petronas is using data science to boost productivity and improve the mental health of its staff. For instance, Petronas has developed a chatbot that functions as a personal assistant to employees who work from home. Noni Sri Ayati Purnomo, president commissioner of Blue Bird, said to adjust to the changing times, the Jakarta-based transportation company had to introduce mobile apps and chatbots, offer multi-channel reservation, and train its drivers to use digital maps. Purnomo said feedback from the company’s employees made such changes possible, emphasizing the “need to be able to understand how we can transform together”. In a panel discussion on the building of smart nation, smart cities and smart industries, Tirupathi Karthik, chief executive officer of Singapore-based Napier Healthcare Solutions, said that with millennials and Generation Z accounting for 38 percent of the global workforce, an online presence has become mandatory for any business or initiative. Generation Z refers to people born between the late 1990s and early 2010s. As for smart healthcare, Karthik said the focus should be on maintaining people’s well-being, not just treating the sick. Helping people avoid admission to the health system is better than giving them good treatment after they come in, he said. Guo Wanda, executive vice-president of think tank the China Development Institute, said the municipal government of Shenzhen – a noted pioneer in smart cities – has given a lot of attention and policy support to the development of smart industries. “It is very important to have policies to support smart industry clusters,” said Guo, citing a recent move by Shenzhen, in South China’s Guangdong province, to foster 20 strategic emerging industry clusters, most of them focused on smart industry. Goh Seok Mei, executive director of non-profit organization United Cities in Malaysia, said climate change also needs to be taken into consideration when building smart cities. “Cities occupy only 2 percent of our land (but) emit 60 percent of our carbon globally,” said Goh. She said it is important to bring together all key stakeholders, from government agencies, to private organizations, to academic institutions and businesses, to work for a central purpose to do better for the city and the region. Although digitalization has become a buzzword in recent years, there has not been much mutual understanding on the matter, said Chhem Siriwat, director of the Centre for Inclusive Digital Economy at Asian Vision Institute, a think tank in Cambodia. In a session about how to close the digital divide, Chhem said having massive programs with fancy names to train people to learn certain technology is not enough, as they still may not be able to use it in the workplace. Therefore, such programs need to be simplified and practical.
    2022-06-29
  • HONG KONG – The rapid growth of e-commerce is shaping Asia’s digital future, with more policies designed to encourage small businesses to go online, according to key speakers at an international forum on technology. Participants on the opening day of the World Digital Economy and Technology Summit 2022, being held in Kuala Lumpur on June 28 and 29, also discussed how the pandemic has led to digital transformation, pushing more people into e-commerce, digital banking, telehealth, and online education. WDET gathered an estimated 650 participants on its first day. Top policymakers, diplomats, corporate leaders, academicians, entrepreneurs, innovators, digital practitioners and digital evangelists from 28 countries attended the hybrid-format event either in person or virtually. WDET has been organized by the KSI Strategic Institute for Asia Pacific, the Economic Club of Kuala Lumpur and the Pacific Basin Economic Council and is supported by the China Daily Asia Leadership Roundtable. Mustapa Mohamed, Malaysia’s minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Economy), and Sandiaga Uno, Indonesia’s minister for tourism and creative economy, discussed how their respective countries are helping micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) embrace digital commerce and contribute to economic growth. “The widespread use of digital technology has accelerated the pace of globalization, transformed the world economic order, and has also transformed the Malaysian economy,” Mustapa said in his keynote address. Mustapa opened WDET’s morning session by noting that Southeast Asia is one of the world’s fastest-growing internet markets and that “the pandemic has completely changed the digital landscape in Southeast Asia, where 14 million new internet users (were) recorded last year”. He said this pushed the “momentum of digitalization to unprecedented heights”. The minister said there are already 875,000 MSMEs in Malaysia which have adopted e-commerce and the government has launched a digital economy blueprint to get 1.1 million MSMEs online by 2025. He said the government has set up a one-stop digital investment site and is enhancing digital literacy in line with Malaysia’s goal “to become a digitally driven and high-tech nation”. Sandiaga, who delivered his speech via video link, said the Indonesian government is building a digital economy to create 4.4 million “new, better quality jobs”. He said only 77 percent of 60 million Indonesian MSMEs have connectivity, and less than 23 percent have access to financial capital. “We don’t need expensive equipment or high internet bandwidth … as long as we have this ability to collaborate. 5G (technology) is only available in major cities now in Indonesia, but we hope to have it available throughout the country,” Sandiaga said. He said the government is “working hard to create more than 4,000 kilometers of fiber optics” to improve connectivity. NR Narayana Murthy, founder and chairman emeritus of Infosys, one of India’s biggest technology companies, said the Indian government has launched two key initiatives which have “brought digitalization to the help of everybody in general, but to the poor in particular”. Murthy, attending WDET in person, said India’s introduction of the digital ID system helped in extending direct subsidies to the poor. Another key initiative is the Open Network for Digital Commerce, which will be launched late this year to help small traders go online. Murthy said digital commerce, quantum computing and the internet of things are some of the “most exciting technologies that will impact our lives”. “The poor people have still not been able to access it (e-commerce) as much as you and I would like,” he said. “But in the years to come, thanks to reduction of prices of cloud computing … digital commerce and digital governance will become all-pervasive.” David Lee Kuo Chuen, professor at the Singapore University of Social Sciences, talked about the metaverse and how it can be applied to manufacturing. “My definition of metaverse is actually the creation of a mixed-reality environment,” Lee said via video link. By combining the virtual and physical worlds, humans can have robots “which think like us” working in factories. He said the manufacturing sector in Singapore is using “human-robot collaboration”, adding that “it doesn’t take away jobs (from humans) but it does make us work a lot smarter”. One panel discussion tackled the many opportunities that digital technology can offer. Yasmin Mahmood, independent non-executive director of Malaysia’s Bintulu Port Holdings, said the tech startup ecosystem will be crucial for economic value creation, harnessing the value from innovation. “It is important that a country has this ecosystem (and) has what it takes to make sure that we encourage the young people and motivate them,” Yasmin said. She also said the government needs to find the right balance between promoting technological innovation and setting the guide rails to better deal with unintended consequences of digitalization, such as polarization on social media platforms, and the digital divide between urban and rural. Chin Yew Sin, Malaysia-based adviser for the Asia-Pacific region at the Global One Belt One Road Association, said all major countries in the world, to be more independent in the global economic system, need to digitize their currencies. He cited the 75-basis-point rate hike by the United States Federal Reserve in mid-June and how this has affected many countries, including Sri Lanka which is on the verge of bankruptcy. “Nowadays, if you want to (get) away from the US dollar, the only way is to digitize your currency, so that when you buy anything you don’t have to use US dollars,” said Chin, adding that he believes the Chinese yuan will be the major currency in the world in 10-15 years through digitalization. Digital transformation will also require a new kind of leadership, equipped to meet new challenges while harnessing opportunities. Deborah Biber, chairperson of the United Nations ESCAP Task Force on Digital Economy and chief executive of Blue Moon Advisory, said innovation and vision will allow digital leaders to stand out. “By fostering a culture of digital dexterity and adoption in their organizations, such leaders take their organizations and lead it ahead,” said Biber. “Digital leaders are well aware that every industry, from manufacturing to professional services, can benefit from digital practices.” At the very least, the digital transformation journey has to be about increasing economic activity, according to Mahadhir Aziz, chief executive officer of Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation, a government agency under the Ministry of Communications and Multimedia Malaysia. Noting that Malaysia aims to digitize its entire economy in the future, Mahadhir said digitalization is not only about building economic activity based on digital technology, but also about providing the right kind of intervention to the right target groups, to facilitate innovation. Almost 90 percent of central banks around the world are developing their own digital currencies and China is taking a very aggressive role, said Charles Chang, deputy dean of academics and director of the Fintech Research Center at the Fanhai International School of Finance at Shanghai’s Fudan University. “At the national level, the concept of (digital yuan) is about sustainable economic development … it is about financial inclusion,” said Chang, noting policy-level digital leadership should be about how to use the technologies to solve critical issues a country is facing.
    2022-06-28
  • The World Digital Economy and Technology Summit 2022 opened on June 28 in Kuala Lumpur with over 600 participants sharing their insights and views on the growth of digital technology and shaping the global digital future. WDET has been organized by the KSI Strategic Institute for Asia Pacific, the Economic Club of Kuala Lumpur and the Pacific Basin Economic Council and is supported by the China Daily Asia Leadership Roundtable. The two-day event comes at a time when the pandemic has led to digital transformation, pushing more people into e-commerce, digital banking, telehealth, and online education. WDET is being held in a hybrid format, with top policymakers, diplomats, corporate leaders, academicians, entrepreneurs, innovators, digital practitioners and digital evangelists from 28 countries attending either in person or virtually. “The widespread use of digital technology has accelerated the pace of globalization, transformed the world economic order, and has also transformed the Malaysian economy,” Mustapa Mohamed, Malaysia’s Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Economy), said in his keynote address. Mustapa opened WDET’s morning session by noting that Southeast Asia is one of the world’s fastest-growing internet markets and that “the pandemic has completely changed the digital landscape in Southeast Asia, where 14 million new internet users (were) recorded last year”. He said this pushed the “momentum of digitalization to unprecedented heights”. Indonesian officials discussed how digital technology is helping and being harnessed by various industries. Sandiaga Uno, Minister for Tourism and Creative Economy, and Muhammad Neil El Himam, deputy chairman for digital economy and creative products at the same ministry, delivered their report via video link. Michael Yeoh, KSI’s president, had a face-to-face discussion with N.R. Narayana Murthy, founder and chairman emeritus of Infosys, one of India’s biggest technology companies. Murthy said digital commerce, quantum computing and the internet of things are some of the “most exciting technologies that will impact our lives”. David Lee Kuo Chuen, professor at the Singapore University of Social Sciences, discussed the metaverse and the future of digital technology and the digital economy, via video link. In the afternoon, the event was to feature a session on digital leadership and business opportunities in the digital economy.
    2022-06-28
  • Inclusion, sustainability underlined as forum addresses regional recovery Asia needs to exercise good governance and focus on green technology, digitalization and innovative solutions as nations gradually rebuild their pandemic-hit economies for a new era, a regional forum was told on Tuesday. For this to happen, Asia must take a new path to growth-one that is more equitable and environmentally friendly and which promotes shared prosperity, according to the government officials, senior executives, civil society leaders and academics who attended the Asia Economic and Entrepreneurship Summit in Kuala Lumpur, capital of Malaysia. On the theme of "The Great Reset-Asia Megatrends and Opportunities Post COVID", the meeting was organized by the KSI Strategic Institute for Asia Pacific, the Economic Club of Kuala Lumpur and China Daily Asia Pacific.
    2022-06-01
  • Developing Asia needs to focus on green technology, digitalization and innovative solutions as it gradually moves to rebuild the pandemic-hit economy, according to the participants of a regional forum held on May 31. But the new normal also means that Asia must take a new path to growth – one that is more equitable, environment-friendly and promotes a shared prosperity, according to government officials, senior company executives, civil society leaders and academic experts who attended in the Asia Economic and Entrepreneurship Summit (AEES) held in Malaysia. The AESS’ theme is “The Great Reset - Asia Megatrends and Opportunities Post COVID”. The one-day forum, held in a hybrid format in Kuala Lumpur, was organized by the KSI Strategic Institute for Asia Pacific, Economic Club of Kuala Lumpur (ECKL) and China Daily Asia Pacific. “We are now seeing the world rapidly reopening following two disruptive years brought about by the pandemic we expected to live with COVID-19 as an endemic, I'm cautiously optimistic that the region will bounce back better and stronger,” Ahmad Fuzi Abdul Razak, governor of the northwestern Malaysian state of Penang, said in his keynote speech. He cited the OECD Economic Outlook for Asia, which forecast Asian economies to grow by 5.8 percent this year. But there are some short-term risks – including possible new waves of COVID-19, rising inflation and political instability. Ahmad Fuzi said Asia is a “resilient region that has proven itself to be able to meet difficult challenges. We must however, continue to be vigilant and to be able to adapt when necessary”. Richard Marshall, senior economist for United Nations Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei, said that post-pandemic recovery needs to emphasize inclusion, sustainability and strengthening resilience. “Some of the challenges we face going forward around the post-COVID recovery (are) ensuring that businesses and workers are secure, leaving no one behind by securing economic and social participation,” Marshall said in a panel discussion. Ahmad Amzad Hashim, Malaysia’s Deputy Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, said digital technology is a new driver of economic growth and this is evident in the Southeast Asian region which is among the world’s fastest-growing Internet markets. Ahmad Amzad delivered the special address in behalf of Adham Baba, Malaysia’s Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation. Ahmad Amzad cited the 2021 report by Google, Temasek and Bain which projected that Southeast Asia’s digital economy will hit $1 trillion US dollars by 2030 and that 80 percent of the 450 million internet users in ASEAN are digital consumers. This, he said, is “a massive market. The pandemic has accelerated the adoption of digitalization in ASEAN”. Apart from digitalization sustainability is also important in light of climate change and as such one of Malaysia’s development goals will entail the use of science, technology and innovation to protect and manage the environment. Albert Oung, chairman of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) Sustainable Business Network Green Economy Task Force and president of World Green Organization, reported how China is developing and promoting green economy. Oung said in a panel discussion that when Chinese President Xi Jinping introduced the Belt and Road Initiative less than a decade ago, “we were already talking about green Belt and Road”. “Belt and Road is somewhat an economic development initiative. But if you want to make it meaningful, we kind of put the green in front where we are not only dealing with economic growth, but also about people, serving the people in all the Belt and Road countries,” he said. Deborah Biber, chairwoman of UN ESCAP’s Digital Economy Task Force and chief executive of Blue Moon Advisory said China has an “incredible role to play in the future of the (fourth) industrial revolution and the advance of digital technology”. “Because without a proper mobile infrastructure scenario, Internet of Things and the Industrial Revolution … is not going to happen. And China has the technology. It has its own infrastructure. They have leapfrogged the West. That is a fantastic opportunity for China to move forward,” Biber said. Raymond Kwong, executive director of Silverlake Axis, also finds BRI greener. “This green BRI is an initiative led by the Chinese government together with other partner governments throughout the world. Despite the geopolitics that we have today, there is one thing that unite us as a global family that is to save the planet,” he said. Kwong also sees all businesses, for all intents and purposes, must go digital and green by 2050 and most of the carbon solutions in next decades rely on new technologies. Caroline Macdonald, CEO of BBX International, noted trillions of financial commitment in the Asia-Pacific to harness opportunities from the launch of innovative products and industries as well as savings from existing and new resources and production costs. She encouraged businesses to seize the opportunities to achieve sustainable energy, efficient logistics, and green connectivity in cities in particular. In building a sustainable green economy through digitization, related people, businesses and agencies can collaborate to rethink their strategy on growth, adapt sustainable principles, and invest in innovative technologies to preserve our eco-system during development. David Morris, vice president of UN ESCAP Sustainable Business Network, said fee market is good when it’s about the ability of businesses to function and to deliver good for society, ”but you do need some rules. You do need some guard rails … I think this is where we really do need to rethink the model.” Morris encourages collective good governance that puts digital and green technologies to use for people-centered purpose of a common future. Justin Lee, High Commissioner of Australia to Malaysia, said that while the pandemic and the Ukraine-Russia conflict are attracting the headlines at the moment, people also need to address other global challenges such as climate change and transitioning to a net zero future. Lee, who is one of the panel discussants, climate change presents offers and opportunities to the region. One if these opportunities is in the development of low emissions technologies that can help countries attain a zero-carbon economy. Roland Galharague, ambassador of France to Malaysia, said that the world is entering a fourth industrial revolution “and the driver for this fourth industrial revolution is precisely turning around our economies to make them green”. “This has lots of implications in all fields of all fields of economic activity, whether it's building, whether it is mobility, whether it is town planning, whether it is smart cities, etcetera,” Galharague said. At another session, speakers encouraged corporate leaders and business communities to enhance sustainability and governance for sustainable and healthy post-pandemic development.
    2022-05-31
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