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Thursday, June 24, 2021
Opening Speech of Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed at Digital City Development in Post-COVID Era Forum
Dato' Sri Mustapa Mohamed

Opening Speech of Minister in the Prime Minister's Department (Economy) Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed at "Digital City Development in the Post-COVID Era" Virtual Forum

Ladies and gentlemen, good morning to you all.

Let me first say what a pleasure it is for me to join you at this virtual forum.

I understand that this is the first collaboration between ACCCIM and ANBOUND Think Tank. We are here today to talk about digital smart city development. By way of introduction, let me say a few words about Malaysia-China relations for the benefit of my friends from ANBOUND.

Since diplomatic relations between Malaysia and China were established in 1974, relations between our two countries have strengthened. In terms of trade and investments, China has been our largest trading partner since the 2009. Trade between China and Malaysia amounted to about 18.6% of Malaysia's total trade in 2020.

I visited China many times in the past 30 years, and I've been impressed with the country's massive transformation. From a country suffering from backbreaking poverty, China is today at the forefront of digitization and modern technology. In February this year, President Xi Jinping declared victory in ending poverty in China, stating that 100 million citizens have been lifted from poverty.

Malaysia too has been growing at a steady pace, but there's a lot more we can do, especially in the area of the digital economy, and digitalization. We should enhance collaboration in the digital space, particularly in the area of smart cities.

Malaysian cities, first and foremost, must be places that offer our citizens quality jobs, and a fulfilling life. Whether they will like it or not, COVID-19 has accelerated our reliance on technology, especially in the cities. The pandemic has transformed behavior and expectations, and has redefined the way urban people work and live. Let us therefore use this opportunity to explore the way forward for Malaysia in embracing change and transformation of our urban centers.

Smart cities can be defined as urban cities that use ICT and technological innovation to provide better lives for its inhabitants. Smart cities have the capacity to improve the welfare of urban dwellers in many ways. Efficient organization, personal safety, connectivity, and environmental conservation, can all be improved in a smart city.

China's megacities, including Shanghai, Shenzhen, Hangzhou and Beijing are rapidly scaling up smart city projects by heavily investing in ICT infrastructure, combined with technologically integrated public services. Significant investments in foundational infrastructure for building smart cities have been made in China over the past decade.

These cities are now starting to reap the benefits in the form of improved delivery of services, cost savings, and evermore connected citizens. For example, in Hangzhou, the cloud computing arm of tech giant Alibaba has helped the city to improve travelling time by about 15% through the use of technologically innovative traffic light.

Malaysia, which has already outlined our plans via the MyDIGITAL Blueprint, can take a page from China's experience in digitalization. In the Blueprint, the government has stated its intention to introduce an enhanced mechanism to accelerate the rollout of smart cities. We want to increase partnership with the cities, and industries and technology partners to help in the development of smart cities. By the year 2025, the government hopes to have at least five smart cities established in this country.

I thank you all for helping to contribute to this important agenda. Have a good day. Thank you, and all the best to all of you. Thank you once again.