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One Year into Malaysia’s National 4IR Policy

  • National Robotics Roadmap to lift robotics into mainstream usage

  • WEF affiliated Centre for Fourth Industrial Revolution to support 4IR Policy

(From left) Fabian Bigar, CEO MyDigital, Mazuin Ismail, Senior Vice President Corporate Strategy, Mustapa Mohamed, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Economy) and Ezarisma Azni Mohamad, CEO of Petrosains.

About the National 4IR Policy

The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) and disruptive technologies, transforming the global economic landscape. On 1 July 2021, the Malaysian government launched the National 4IR policy to increase the country’s readiness in harnessing the potential of 4IR.

The National 4IR policy identifies growth opportunities in key focus areas which impact the Rakyat, businesses, and government whilst also addressing and mitigating potential risks that may arise due to disruptive technologies.

With a total of 92 initiatives – 32 national and 60 sectoral – each of the initiatives are under specific clusters chaired by Ministers and the Chief Secretary to the Government to improve overall efficiency, accountability, and inter-ministry collaboration.

According to Fabian Bigar, Chief Executive Officer of MyDIGITAL Corporation, “While the Malaysia Digital Economy Blueprint (MDEB) outlines Malaysia's roadmap towards achieving the status of a high-income nation by accelerating digitalization in all aspects of the economy, the 4IR policy is about embracing new technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Big Data, blockchain not only in our economic activities but also within all aspects of our lives.”

He notes that the National 4IR is an overarching policy that drives policy coherence and supports the delivery of national interests, provides guidelines to address risks from 4IR technology whilst preserving value and culture. “It also aims to create a conducive ecosystem to accelerate digitalization through convergence of technologies, disciplines and facilitating the emergence of new business models,” Fabian adds.

Furthermore, the National 4IR policy aims to leverage on the synergy of the physical, biological, and digital worlds to elevate the country's overall value based on four policy thrusts. These include equipping the rakyat with 4IR knowledge and skill sets, forging a connected nation through digital infrastructure development, future-proofing regulations to be agile with technological changes, and accelerating 4IR technology innovation and adoption.

“Many will benefit from Malaysia’s 4IR agenda including youth through better access to learning methods and skills-enhancement powered by edutech. Social enterprises could also utilize 4IR technology to solve socio-economic issues and facilitate digital onboarding to bridge the rural-urban digital gap, while businesses can further develop industry-led and sectoral based 4IR-powered capacity. Even the public sector could gain on the advancement by leveraging on big data to improve public service delivery towards a fit-for-future government,” he added.


Malaysia has been successful in attracting high value digital investments. Between January and June 2022, the government approved RM51.07 billion worth of projects, on track to achieving the target of RM70 billion in digital investments by 2025. Not only do these digital investments demonstrate the government’s commitment to embracing the digital economy and 4IR, it also signals investors’ confidence in Malaysia’s strong fundamentals.


The engagement with the private sector is crucial to accelerate the growth of the digital economy in Malaysia, just as it is important to leverage on emerging technologies to drive innovation. Thus, the MyDIGITAL Catalytic Projects Task Force was established to cultivate public-private partnership.

Catalytic Projects are private sector driven projects that give focus to new technologies such as 5G, AI, blockchain or Internet of Things to create an innovative digital ecosystem. Meanwhile, the Government takes the proactive role as facilitator to further enhance the enabling ecosystem, particularly for policy and regulatory reforms cutting across ministries and agencies and facilitating discussions to debottleneck key challenges.


In the last Digital Economy and Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) Council meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Dato' Sri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, it was announced that Malaysia will develop a National Robotics Roadmap (NRR).

The NRR will be developed in an effort to accelerate the adoption of robotics technology into mainstream usage with the goal of ultimately increasing the country’s robot density of 55 units for every 10,000 workers in 2019 to 195 robots for every 10,000 workers by 2030. In addition to improved productivity, the NRR will also have the added benefit of reducing Malaysia’s reliance on foreign labor and minimizing currency outflow.


Furthermore, Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Abdul Aziz announced that Malaysia will be establishing a Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (WEF-C4IR) in support of the 4IR Policy’s vision. The Centre, which is an affiliated center of the World Economic Forum (WEF) was announced during the WEF Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland.

The establishment of WEF-C4IR is the first in Southeast Asia and it spotlights the country’s commitment towards prioritizing technology as the key catalyst for economic growth and post-pandemic recovery. As part of a global network of 15 centers spanning four continents, the WEF-C4IR in Malaysia carries the MyDIGITAL aspiration to transform Malaysia into a digitally driven high-income nation that is a leader in digital economy within the region, as well as unlocking Malaysia’s full potential to benefit from the digital economy.

With the WEF-C4IR, it is hoped that technology adoption will be accelerated to help secure a more equitable, inclusive, and sustainable growth for Malaysia as the country transitions into the endemic phase.

The future lies in the hands of a digitally savvy, critical thinking next gen that embraces digital skills.


Malaysia is accelerating its digital transformation journey, and its ability to leverage 4IR technologies such as artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, renewable energies and quantum computing will be one of the leading drivers for the nation’s sustainable, resilient and inclusive economic growth in decades to come.

The National 4IR Policy steers strategic socio-economic transformation through ethical use of 4IR technologies towards a balanced, responsible, and sustainable growth. It is imperative that Malaysians embrace and adapt to digitalization in order to bridge the digital divide and collectively enjoy an improved standard of living and prosperity.


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