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Malaysia, “Next Silicon Valley of the ASEAN?”


Bekir Kilic
Bekir Kilic

For the world, the digital economy is now a major source of economic growth which offers new opportunities for entrepreneurs to innovate and enhance social welfare and efficiency. This is something that Malaysia understands and is on a mission to transform itself to a knowledge-based developed economy.

After attending the Trade & Investment Mission to Australia on 5th of December, hosted by the Minister of International Trade and Industry of Malaysia, the Hon. Mustapha Mohamed, my previous curiosity regarding the possibility of doing business in Malaysia was rewarded. In his opening speech, he shared that in previous hosted events in Australia, there were merely 80 companies attending the event. This year however had a turnout of over 400. This was a clear indication to me that Malaysia is ready to do business.

Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC), An agency under the Ministry of Communications and Multimedia Malaysia, has been entrusted to develop, coordinate, and promote Malaysia’s digital economy, information and communications technology (ICT) industry, and the adoption of digital technology amongst Malaysians.

Let’s talk Economic Location. Malaysia is located at the heart of the ASEAN Region, making it an ideal gateway to access a large population base of 600 million (that's larger than the USA and Japan populaces combined) and a collective GDP of USD2 trillion. It is little wonder that over 5,000 companies from 60 nations have already cast their anchors in Malaysia.

Coming from a neighboring Australian perspective this is a “Win Win” for Australia and Malaysia, the possibilities are endless. The incentives to invest include government concessions such as up to 10 years’ tax free trading, 100% foreign ownership and being able to draw 100% of the profits. Not only does this offer financial benefit but it enhances and exports the skilled talent for Australia and in return creating jobs and building the workforce for Malaysia.

With all this in mind, I found myself on a flight to Malaysia a week later off to discover business opportunities awaiting. Armed with expectation I landed with a sense of “ok let’s see what’s on offer”. Impressively the staff at MDEC were ready and waiting to deliver all they had to offer at the Trade event.

Malaysia has already constructed their version of Silicone Valley called MSC Malaysia, it is nothing short of impressive. It all started with a vision to encourage the growth of a digital economy. Based on the concept of industry clustering, companies of similar industries are placed within the same geographical area to fuel economic growth. These companies are also housed within a facilitative eco-system to build their businesses in line with the vision of a developed digital economy. This creates healthy competition amongst businesses, encouraging innovation and development while raising competencies on a national and regional level.

With access to world-class infrastructure, MSC Malaysia is already attracting local and global investors and supports a robust local start-up ecosystem.

Some of the reasons why Malaysia had appealed to me in expanding my company internationally:
   English Speaking Skilled Workforce
   Best Economic Records in Asia
   Cheaper Setup and Overheads
   Hub of South East Asia
   Well Developed Infrastructure

The infrastructure being put in place is growing at such a rapid pace it made me wonder how quickly a company could be setup and running here. How do I source the skills/labor? Allow me to explain in a few words what I was offered in Malaysia.

MDEC came on board and spent time with me to explain the process, and introduced the states and regions of Malaysia which will be most beneficial to my business. Within two days I was presented with three immediate options for business occupation. One was existing, the other off the plan and the third on the Malaysia Singapore Border for those looking for a closer link to Singapore. Once I had decided on the Johor Bahru Region, then they have partnered me with i2M Ventures Sdn Bhd (“i2M”) who are specialists in this field. Their key mandate is to attract and facilitate local and foreign corporations and set up centres in Johor, via GBS ISKANDAR.

I2M staff were proactive in setting up appointments with relative Universities and Colleges as an option of where to source staff and also guided me on organisational setups with banking and legal requirements. Together with MDEC’s can do attitude, this process saved me time, effort and assumptions.

The Malaysian Government has the ambitious and confident vision to be the first country in the world to introduce the Digital Free Trade Zone. The idea of the world having a physical and virtual zone with additional online and digital services to facilitate international eCommerce and invigorate internet based innovation is an exciting prospect to look forward to.

I have realised that not only is the Malaysian Government serious about this venture but they are helping in every step of the way to ensure 100% success rates for their own people, their economy, our economy and building confidence and prosperity with overseas investors.

For more information regarding opportunities in Malaysia visit www.mdec.com.my 


by Bekir Kilic

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