KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 19  — Malaysia needs very stable Internet infrastructure that’s robust and reliable as Internet usage would inevitably surge in the years ahead for government, businesses and the rakyat for the continued growth of the digital economy.

Malaysia Internet Exchange (MyIX) chairman Chiew Kok Hin said the MyDigital initiative, which will be executed via the Malaysia Digital Economy Blueprint, is a strategic step in the right direction to further grow Malaysia’s digital economy and anticipated to contribute to 22.6 per cent of Malaysia’s gross domestic product (GDP), while creating 500,000 new jobs.

He said as it stands, a growing number of data centre operators have moved and are moving to Malaysia to enhance data speeds to cater for densely populated cities within the Southeast Asian region.

“This includes hyperscale data centres, which are owned and operated by the company they support, and which offer robust, scalable applications and storage portfolio of services to individuals or businesses,” he said in a statement today.

Chiew said Malaysia has its strengths in Internet infrastructure due to strategic geographical location, ease of access and relatively lower cost of entry.

“Our country has had some strategic wins from both local and international providers. Foreign players with data centres operating in Malaysia include Alibaba, Hitachi, NTT, Microsoft, IBM and Bridge Data Centres.

“That said, government policies should always be investor friendly if we are to continually attract foreign investors into Malaysia,” he said.

One such strategic thrust announced by Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin is to attract more submarine cables to land into Malaysia to expand global connectivity, with desired outcomes being higher investments and more reliable and faster Internet connection.

The target under this strategic thrust is for Malaysia to have the highest number of submarine cables landing in Southeast Asia by 2025.

As it stands, this is currently an area of concern with foreign multinationals who had invested in submarine cables in Malaysia, he said.

The elephant in the room is the fact that cabotage exemption for foreign vessels to conduct undersea cable repairs was revoked last November, he added.

This has resulted in undersea cable repairs taking up to 27 days in Malaysia which is way behind other countries in Southeast Asia. As a comparison, undersea cable repairs are said to take 20 days in the Philippines, 19 days in Singapore and 12 days in Vietnam.

“For Malaysia to attract more submarine cable investments, this cabotage issue needs to be resolved as soon as possible; and specifically that cabotage exemption for foreign vessels to conduct undersea cable repairs to be reinstated soonest possible.

“Since the Prime Minister has placed on record this strategic thrust as a priority, government ministries and agencies should follow suit and not be a stumbling block for Malaysia to realise its aspirations of being a fully-fledged digital economy,” he added.


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