Fahmi Fadzil: My vision, together with all of you, is for Malaysia to be the new Asian Digital Tiger

  • Minister, in close partnership with tech ecosystem, aims to pivot country
  • Digerati 50 networking: You feel pumped & fuelled to keep disrupting the future

Fahmi Fadzil (8th from left), Minister of Communications and Digital with Digerati50 and guests.

No lawball targets for Fahmi Fadzil, the 4th Minister of Communications Malaysia has had since Feb 2020. (The portfolio has been updated to reflect the times, with Multimedia replaced by Digital hence Fahmi being the Minister of Communications and Digital.)

In his welcome remarks at Digital News Asia’s 5th Digerati50 Networking hosted by Cyberview Sdn Bhd at Rekascape, Cyberjaya on Fri, 20th Jan, Fahmi told the assembled Digerati50,  “I am very happy to be here. Consider me your friend. My vision, (working) together with all of you, is for Malaysia to be the new Asian Digital Tiger.” 

Knowing well that a lot of hard work lays behind achieving such a lofty goal, Fahmi, who was appointed as minister in early Dec 2022, has been operating in 5th gear since day one. Infact, after leaving the Digerati50 Networking at 7.45pm, he headed back to the office, even though it was a Fri evening and happened to be the beginning of a 4-day major festive break in Malaysia. No rest for the driven.

In the seven weeks he has been minister, Fahmi told the audience that he has come to realise the importance of securing three key pillars to further drive Malaysia’s digital economy.

The first was the need to strengthen its telco and internet infrastructure and widen coverage to connect the final 3% of the population as well, hence leaving no Malaysian behind as the country transitions to a digital driven economy.

The second was the realisation that data was indeed the new oil. “A eureka moment for me was the realisation that data is a national asset. And to capitalize its value, it has to be fully protected.”  

A key step towards this is to revamp Malaysia’s Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA), while concurrently strengthening the hand of Cybersecurity Malaysia (CSM), the public sector cyber security specialists that Fahmi is looking to upgrade into a Commission to “give it more teeth, more power.” He described CSM as one of the best cybersecurity outfits in the Asia Pacific region. 

The third pillar, attracting foreign investment, is a long standing priority of all past administrations as well. 

“We will be working very, very hard to bring home the halal turkey bacon,” he quipped, adding that the target set for the digital economy to contribute 25.5% of total GDP by 2025 can be exceeded. According to a Nov 2021 Department of Statistics Malaysia release, the Digital Economy already contributed 22.6% of GDP in 2020.

Towards this end, agencies under Fahmi’s ministry will be making more trips overseas to sell Malaysia’s strengths as an emerging digital economy, with Fahmi himself planning to attend the World Mobile Congress in Barcelona next month where he will be a speaker on the Opening Doors For Digital Inclusion ministerial panel.

His hope in executing this, while making investing easier, improving the regulatory environment and growing the venture capital and angel ecosystem, all in close partnership with the country’s tech ecosystem, is to pivot the country and, “lead Malaysia into its Golden Digital Decade,” he expressed. 

The gathering was also significant as it marked the first ecosystem appearance of the merged CelcomDigi, now the country's largest telco with over 20 million subscribers. Joachim Rajaram, Chief Corporate Affairs Officer said, "CelcomDigi has the vision of becoming a top telco-tech company. As Malaysian businesses and society in general increasingly turn to digitalisation for productivity and efficiency gains, CelcomDigi looks forward to stimulating new growth opportunities for large enterprises and SMEs, and partnering with local and global digital players to advance the nation's digital aspirations. There's much to be done together, so let's get to it."

[Ed: Article updated with paragraph above.] 

(From Left) Aaron Sarma (partially hidden), founding partner of Scaleup Malaysia making his point to Fahmi (right) as MDEC CEO Mahadhir Aziz listens on (centre).

Lim Kok Hing, iPay88 co-founder sharing an amusing moment with Fadzil as Naguib Mohd Nor, CEO of Strand Aerospace looks on.

(L2R): Khairudding Rahman, CEO of Sirius International with Dr Nikolai Dobberstein, Global and Asia Pacific Co-Lead, Telecommunications, Media, and Technology, AT Kearney and T. Kugan, Chief Innovation Officer, CelcomDigi.

Fahmi Fadzil: My vision, together with all of you, is for Malaysia to be the new Asian Digital TigerMeanwhile Fahmi scored a home run with his attentiveness and probing questions as DNA’s Digerati50 introduced themselves and their business to him. He sought feedback from them as well, especially in regards to Budget 2023 which the government will be tabling next month.

Comments from some Digerati50 on their experience ranged from, Ramachandran Muniandy (pic, left), CEO and co-founder of Asia Mobility Sdn Bhd who described the gathering as “Always a great time to assemble the people that's powering our digital economy,” to Azran Osman Rani, co-founder of Naluri Life Sdn Bhd who made an insightful link between networking to fitness and nutrition. “We know we entrepreneurs need to do it, but it's hard to make time and get ourselves there. But a Digerati 50 networking event is like a fully-equipped gym. Once you're there, you feel the pump - and fuelled up to keep disrupting the future!”

And coincidentally, that is how Fahmi ended his welcome remarks as well - “See you in our digital future!”

Special thanks to Fabian Bigar, CEO of MyDigital, Kamarul A. Mohamed, cofounder of Aerodyne and a member of the Economic Action Council (EAC) and Naguib Mohd Nor, CEO of Strand Aerospace Malaysia and director at PEMUDAH, who respectively gave quick updates on what MyDigital, the EAC and PEMUDAH were planning for 2023.

(L2R): Ivan Teh, CEO of Fusionex Group with Fahmi, CS Ong, Pikom chairman and Joachim Rajaram, chief corporate affairs officer, CelcomDigi.

Fahmi (centre) posing with the CelcomDigi team of (from L 2 R), Muhammad Hafiz A Kadir, Communications, Joachim Rajaram, Chief Corporate Affairs Officer, T. Kugan, Chief Innovation Officer, Edgar Koh, Senior Associate, Business Strategy and Ravishankar, Head of Strategic Projects and Partnerships.

(L2R): Harpreet Singh, founder and CEO of Blocklime, Wong Whei Meng, founder and CEO of Speedrent with Naysan Munusamy, co-founder and COO of MoneyMatch.

DNA founder Karamjit Singh giving his opening remarks.

The 5th Digerati50 Networking was hosted by Cyberview with Merchantrade Asia, Fusionex Group and CelcomDigi as co-sponsors.


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