Telco Deep Dive 2019: Gobind laser focused on ensuring no Malaysian left behind in Digital Economy

  • MCMC never moved this fast in its history with four key initiatives in 2019
  • Speedy execution to ensure no Malaysians are left behind in Digital Economy

Gobind at the office opening of Macrokiosk Sdn Bhd, one of the most successful homegrown tech companies, in KL recently. MDEC CEO Surina Shukri is at far left followed by CS Goh, cofounder and chief corporate officer, Kenny Goh, cofounder and CEO and Henry Goh, founder and COO.

“This government is all about transparency and collaboration,” said Al-Ishsal Ishak, chairman of Malaysia’s Communications and Multimedia Commission at a lunch briefing yesterday on the just announced National Digital ID plan. But, as in keeping with the open nature of his boss, Communications and Multimedia Minister, Gobind Sing Deo, Ishsal quickly adds, but you can asking me anything else you want as well.

And as Ishsal points out, the start of the consultative process for a national Digital ID is but one of four main pillars that the MCMC is executing this year. Is that significant? Ishsal thinks so. “It has never happened in the history of the MCMC that we launched four key initiatives in a year – and we still have four months to go,” he exclaims.

Besides the National Digital ID, Ishsal was talking about the 5G Taskforce which is expected to present its findings to Gobind by October this year. Then there is the Sept analogue switch-off or ASO that is just a month away with the idyllic island of Langkawi already enjoying digital only TV, having had its ASO last month.  And the most recent development was Wednesday’s announcement of the US$5.1 billion (RM21.6 billion) National Fiberization and Connectivity Plan whose twin goals are to boost national competitiveness in a digital economy and to ensure shared prosperity from the riches of the digital economy are enjoyed by all Malaysians.

Indeed in DNA’s interview with Gobind last month for our 5th annual Telco Deep Dive, this one point came across strongly and it is a point Gobind has been making consistently and frequently since becoming minister in May 2018.

Even Gobind’s desire for speed in execution, of all the initiatives his ministry is driving, is connected to his desire to ensure no Malaysians are left behind in the digital economy. With Gobind keenly aware that most Malaysians in urban areas already take for granted the good quality connectivity they enjoy.  

“You have to understand that we do not have the luxury of time, the world will have moved ahead and we will have an entire generation in rural areas that would have missed out on the opportunities the digital economy has to offer,” he explains.

It is very difficult for me to explain to the public why certain segments of society have the priviledge of connectivity but others don’t. We [his ministry], have a lot of concern about this,” he stresses.

Bridging this gap using any means of infrastructure possible is also why Gobind reached out to power utility, Tenaga Nasional Bhd (TNB), a company not within his responsibility as Minister, about using their power lines to deliver fibre connectivity to Malaysians and in doing so, disrupt Telekom Malaysia’s dominance as the fibre broadband leader with around 90% market share.

His answer to me was simple. “You have to get your priorities right. What do we want here? To see that the country is well connected and its people enjoy the economic and social benefits of that connectivity or remain stuck as the previous government was in not being able to move [against Telekom’s interests]?” he poses. “We have to be proactive and we have to take chances,” he adds.

Taking chances, not reckless but calculated, to him help create the opportunity for new growth as well, which is also why he says he is supportive of the move by Telenor and Axiata Group to merge.  “Sigve and Jamal have assured me the move will create high value jobs and boost our innovation capacity and competitive advantage,” he says, referring to Sigve Brakke, CEO of Telenor Group and Jamaludin Ibrahim, group CEO and President of Axiata Group.   He also thinks it will shake the other players in the Malaysian market to respond to the coming greater competition.

My interview with Gobind is but one of a number of interesting stories we have lined up for you in our 5th Telco Deep Dive over the next two weeks. Look out for my chat with Gobind and some other stories including the three scenarios for Telenor-Axiata, how Celcom Axiata, Digi and Maxis did competing against each other in Q2 2019, key highlights from the 2017 USP Annual Report (the 2018 report is not out yet), how Maxis aims to make inroads in the enterprise market, of MyTV finally being able to monetize its Digital Terrestrial TV platform, and what were some of the top digital devices in 1H2019.

Do reach out to me as well on what articles you would like to see in our 6th Telco Deep Dive.

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