By K. Raman, Managing Director, Microsoft Malaysia
As we rebuild our nation’s economy and move beyond COVID-19, Malaysia’s 2022 budget themed “Keluarga Malaysia, Makmur Sejahtera” (A Prosperous Malaysian Family) is built on the premise of inclusivity by design as a key success factor for the nation.
For Malaysia to emerge from the endemicity and propel the economy, the support of every Malaysian is required and a plan which facilitates the inclusion of more segments of society in the rebuilding of our economy is a strategic decision that will benefit both the rakyat, and the nation in the long run.
We recognize and welcome the efforts by the Government to engage with the private sector, taking into consideration the insights and suggestions from key stakeholders, and developing a budget that ensures all Malaysians are represented and supported on our road to recovery. Indeed, the theme of collaboration between both public and private sectors was central to our Bersama Malaysia initiative launched earlier this year, and it is encouraging to see this theme continue to be front and centre as we head into 2022.
At Microsoft, we believe in the power of collaboration to build an inclusive and resilient nation, empowering every person and organization to achieve more in the digital economy. The measures outlined in this year’s budget provide a comprehensive strategy to accelerate our nation’s economic recovery and growth, without losing sight of the role that digitalization plays in accelerating the creation of an inclusive economy.
Reforming the public sector with cloud
Firstly, we would like to thank the public sector for their relentless work throughout the pandemic. Supporting a nation amid a healthcare crisis is a truly remarkable feat and moving forward we must consider the role technology can play in easing the burden placed on the shoulders of the men and women working in this sector.
With that in mind, we welcome the government’s Digital First Programme to encourage the usage of cloud computing in the public sector. The world around us has changed, and a reform of public sector services is needed to meet the demands of a technologically savvy rakyat. The pandemic has also shone a spotlight on the importance of agility and flexibility in the public sector, and the adoption of Cloud technology will not only reduce the need for physical infrastructures, but also provide an ideal platform to immediately respond to future crises whilst simultaneously enhancing the quality of services provided to the public.
As partners to the nation, we are proud to work with the Malaysian Administrative Modernisation and Management Planning Unit (MAMPU), to provide Cloud skills training to the Malaysian public sector agencies, ensuring our nation’s civil service is equipped to handle the challenges of the future.
Education as a top priority for the nation
The past year has been very challenging for the education sector, as students and teachers had to be agile in learning and teaching. We welcome the government’s continued emphasis on our nation’s education system, apportioning the lion’s share of the 2022 budget into the education sector. With RM 52.6 billion going into the Ministry of Education and RM 14.5 billion for the Ministry of Higher Education, we remain optimistic about the future of the nation’s education system.
We hope to see the investment being made here go towards digitalizing the education sector, to enhance the quality of education and to ensure continuous learning at all education levels. Initiatives such as DELIMa (‘Digital Educational Learning Initiative Malaysia’) highlight the critical need to have the right digital solutions in place to prevent disruption in the education sector, especially in instances where remote learning is the only option.
Microsoft Showcase Schools such as SK Taman Bukit Indah, are shining examples of how educators can leverage technology to make remote learning more enjoyable, while also empowering nearby communities to achieve more using technology.
SMEs – Driving growth for the backbone of Malaysia’s economy
Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) have been among the hardest hit by the pandemic in the Malaysian business sector, stunting growth in this sector for the past few years. For many, technology provided a silver lining that empowered them to continue operating and to also innovate new ways of providing services to customers.
As such, the government’s investments into boosting digital transformation among SMEs is very much welcome in the current digital era. With RM 200 million allocated to facilitate digital adoption among SMEs via the SME Digitization Grant Scheme initiative, we hope to see more SMEs become digitally powered and actively participate in the digital economy. In doing so, we hope these SMEs will continue to thrive, create job opportunities, empower communities, and enhance the standard of life for people living in those communities.
While the government continues to roll out support for our nation’s SMEs, it is imperative that the private sector also steps up and lend our support to expedite their digitalization journey. This is a key area of focus for us at Microsoft, as we collaborate closely with key partners from the telco sector, including Celcom, Maxis, and Telekom Malaysia, to provide easy and affordable solutions designed to accelerate digitalization among SMEs.
Gender budgeting – empowering and uplifting our nation’s women
The pandemic has impacted the lives of all Malaysians in many ways. The pandemic was more than a just a health or an economic crisis, as its impact is being felt in every household, transforming the way we live, work and play. With the nation going into lockdown to curb the spread of the virus, many were unprepared for the rapid changes that were taking place all around us.
Among those who were disproportionately impacted by the pandemic were women. It is indeed heartening to see the focus on gender budgeting, especially for single mothers who are under tremendous pressure to not only look after their children, but also hold a stable job to continue supporting their family.
The introduction of the MyKasih Kapital program to educate and incentivize women to set up businesses from home is timely given the uptick in e-commerce and it will go a long way in improving the quality of life for mothers across the nation. The government’s investment of RM30 million to establish childcare centres in government buildings is also a step in the right direction, encouraging more mothers to continue participating in the workforce.
The budget acknowledges the critical role women play in our nation’s economy, and we fully support the government’s decision to allocate RM 5 million to empower women to participate in the economic sector through the Women’s Leadership Foundation. On this front, Microsoft welcomes collaboration opportunities with the government, to extend our support through our existing initiatives such as Code; Without Barriers, working together to provide women with more opportunities to succeed in the digital future.
Additionally, we laud the government’s investment of RM 13 million to strengthen the D11 Division – Sexual, Women and Children Investigation Division of the Royal Malaysian Police, to further protect the safety and wellbeing of women, especially those from marginalized and underserved communities. We hope the government and the Malaysian law enforcement will also consider apportioning this investment to protect the safety of women online, as cyber safety continues to be a concern in Malaysia and across the globe.
Skilling the nation for the future of work
Digital skills play a defining role in the employability of people in the workforce today. As more organizations leverage newer and more advanced technology, having the right talent is vital to the success of any organization’s digital transformation journey. We celebrate the success of the government in implementing reskilling and upskilling programmes through the previous budget, helping the rakyat learn new skills and explore new opportunities in the Malaysian workforce.
This year’s budget outlined a clear approach to preparing the nation’s workforce for future work opportunities. This budget sets a target of training 220,000 people via various upskilling and reskilling programmes, allocating RM 1.1 billion to achieve this. The government also emphasised on skilling talent in high value-added industries, allocating RM 80 million to train and prepare 20,000 workers to support select industrial clusters in the nation. An additional RM 50 million will also be funnelled to improve the TVET skills of workers in key sectors such as oil and gas welding, industrial automation, and mechatronics.
We welcome the new investments into the nation’s talent development, and we are happy to see the government outline clear targets that they hope to achieve. We are ever ready to support the government in this endeavour, as we have aligned ourselves to the nation’s skilling priorities via our Bersama Malaysia initiative which unites the public and private sector to realize the nation’s digital agenda.
Green budgeting for a sustainable economy
This year’s budget also aligned with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), outlining strategies to foster the creation of a prosperous and sustainable economy. As climate change continues to impact the world, we must take responsibility and promote sustainable development to ensure the world we leave behind is safe and hospitable for future generations to enjoy.
To ensure Malaysia becomes carbon neutral, the government has proposed the launch of the Voluntary Carbon Market (VCM) initiative to support carbon credit trading between green asset owners and entities transitioning towards low-carbon practices. We also recognize the government’s proactivity in encouraging SMEs to adopt sustainable and low-carbon practices by providing a Low Carbon Transition Facility via Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM).
We fully support the nation on its journey towards sustainability, as we at Microsoft have made a similar commitment to be carbon negative by 2030. While the road towards sustainability is challenging, it is certainly not impossible. Moving forward, we hope to engage more with the public and private sectors in Malaysia, to share our learnings with one another and jointly work towards a more sustainable future.
We stand with Malaysia, kami Bersama Malaysia.