THE COVID-19 pandemic will accelerate the pace of Industrial Revolution 4.0 (IR4.0) and Malaysia should grab the opportunity to create a new deal for the people.

Speaking to FocusM, chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee for International Relations and Trade Wong Chen said the robotics industry would see a boom as the sector is seen immune to the pandemic.

“I think Malaysia’s IR4.0 ambition should be focused on implementing deliverables for manufacturing purposes.

“We do have some developments on big data and specialised manufacturing purposes but most of the inventions will be coming from abroad,” he noted.

In 2018, former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad launched the Malaysia’s National Policy on Industry 4.0 (Industry4WRD).

Industry4WRD is focused on digitally transforming Malaysia’s manufacturing sector and its related services to embrace IR4.0.

The policy envisions Malaysia as a strategic partner for smart manufacturing, a primary destination for high-technology industries and total solutions provider for the manufacturing sector in the region.

Touching on the blueprint, Wong said Malaysia, being a small trading nation with over 30 million population, needs to focus on a few key areas with regard to IR4.0 instead of trying to capture many things at one go.

“If we want to improve automation, then focus on automating industries that we have comparative advantages such as rubber and palm oil.

“If we are looking at big data, then let’s focus on culturally nuanced data since we have a complex multi-racial, multilingual and multi religious society.

“Just don’t spread our limited resources by pursuing too many things. Stay focused and be the best in our own economic spheres,” he advised.

Stop brain drain, nurture critical thinking

On the challenges Malaysia may face, Wong said that brain drain is a key problem the government should address to ensure the nation keeps up with IR4.0.

“If we have local champions, then we need to nurture and keep these companies here in Malaysia. We should do our best to prevent our best talents migrating to Singapore.

“And to address the problem, we need political will,” remarked Wong who is also the Parti Keadilan Rakyat member of Parliament for Subang.

Elaborating on that point, he said that robust governance and accountability were key to ensure Malaysia’s rich pool of talent and entrepreneurs get the necessary support to drive the economy.

“The perpetual problem has been wastage and misallocation of grants and support. We are also unable to keep these talents from venturing abroad.

“So we need to fix governance and create the conditions for capital and financial support,” added Wong.

Wong further stated, “We also need to boost creativity and innovation. To do that, our education system must create critical thinkers and artistic talents. Political will is needed to drive these changes.”