Malaysia to leverage on 5G in 3 years, says Dr Mahathir

Nations which respond quickly to disruption have always been able to ride the wave of radical changes, says PM


PRIME Minister (PM) Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad expects Malaysia to leverage on 5G technology in the next three years, which in turn, would catapult the national economy with stronger and sustainable growth.

Dr Mahathir, who was recently named as Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people this year, said nations which respond quickly to disruption with systematic and coherent strategies for its citizenry have always been able to ride the wave of radical changes.

“The march of technological progress is not only relentless but it is also faster than what we can imagine, making it crucial for business leaders to review their business processes, strategies and goals to stay ahead of the curve,” he said at the launch of the 5G Malaysia Showcase in Putrajaya yesterday.

However, he said the change from 4G to 5G will not happen overnight as it requires significant efforts in research and development, industry collaborations and the resources necessary to support the efforts.

Dr Mahathir also recommended all stakeholders, especially business leaders, to embrace Industry 4.0 and complement their plans with augmentation strategies.

He said the ability to keep abreast of and in tandem with technological progress will have a bearing on the country’s overall economic success.

Citing the Multimedia Super Corridor, which was conceived during his first tenure as PM, Dr Mahathir said the initiative has generated more than RM47 billion in revenues from over 3,000 companies and created more than 160,000 jobs since its inception in 1996. 

“We have come a long way, and yet, there’s still a distance to go. What we are doing today is the cornerstone of Malaysia’s march into the new age and a vital foundation for us to remain relevant and competitive,” he added.

Also present at the launch were Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo, Economic Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali, Federal Territories Minister Khalid Samad and Port Dickson MP Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

Dr Mahathir said the 5G cellular network is expected to have an uplifting impact on industries such as manufacturing that has contributed 22% to the country’s GDP in the last five years.

He said through smart manufacturing or massive machine-type communications, the government could attract high value-added, high technology and knowledge intensive investments in areas such as aerospace, chemicals and chemical products, machinery and equipment, medical devices, and electrical and electronics.

He said 5G technologies must also be used to address income disparities in Malaysia, citing a Khazanah Research Institute report which found that the local income gap has doubled in the last two decades.

“The government is committed to reducing the income gap between segments of the Malaysian population but it cannot do this alone, via government aid and social services.

“It is, on this note, I believe that technology can ensure businesses become more effective, which, in turn, could yield and increase productivity and output, as well as wages for the workers,” he said.

Responding to a hologram image of a child named Aisyah onstage, the PM jokingly said he expected “human teleportation” to be the next major digital breakthrough after 5G.

Aisyah, who later received a forehead kiss from Dr Mahathir onstage, had appeared alongside the 93-year-old in an emotional video clip produced ahead of the 14th General Election last year.


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