1. Thank you for being here today. We are greatly honoured by your attendance and I wish to express my appreciation for being invited to grace the occasion and to officiate the launching.
2. As the saying goes: “Ideals are like the stars; you can’t touch them. But like the mariner sailing the ocean, you chart your course by them, and thereby reach your destination.”
3. To my mind, today’s event is very much connected to this reaching out for the stars, an earnest motivation to realize our ideals by sustained effort, dedication and hard work.
4. Indeed, it may just be one small step in the grand scheme of things but for the State of Selangor, this tiny step may well turn out to be a giant leap for our ideal of transforming Selangor into a world-class Smart State.
5. However, this dream will never be realized unless we are prepared to mobilize all efforts to galvanize our infrastructure and technological capabilities towards a common goal.
6. In this voyage, all parties and sectors must pool their resources for optimal use and while the State Government must and will provide the facilitative role, the private sector, particularly businesses and commercial enterprises must be proactive and become the main drivers.
Ladies and gentlemen,
7. As many of us here today are well informed about the pervasiveness and importance of Information Technology, internet use and extent of the role of smart devices in our daily lives, I will not bore you with the facts and figures in this regard.
8. Nevertheless, to celebrate today’s launching, please allow me to touch on three specific areas which I believe have a direct bearing on our aspirations of becoming a Smart State.
9. These aspirations are not to be seen in isolation but should be viewed in the context of our strategic vision of catapulting Selangor onto the regional platform and from there to become a global player.
E-Commerce in Malaysia
10. Firstly, from all the leading market surveys and international reports, the indications are that E-commerce will occupy a significant portion of total commerce transactions in Malaysia in the years to come. With this exponential growth, there will also be an increase in tandem in the number of Malaysians who purchase products online.
11. In fact, our online transactions per capita are among the highest in Southeast Asia with Malaysia and Singapore generating almost half of total online retail sales.
12. It cannot be overstressed that SME participation in E-commerce is vital because SMEs constitute 99.2% of total business establishments. But their contribution towards the GDP is only 32%. The State Government wants to see SMEs contribute much more and one of the biggest ways is to have them move to E-commerce over and above their brick and mortar business.
13. Selangor must therefore be poised to take advantage of this huge market. It is incumbent on the State Government to provide the impetus for expansion including, among other things, ensuring that conditions are conducive for E-commerce to flourish.
14. In this regard, the establishment of the Selangor Information Technology and E-Commerce Council (SITEC) represents a milestone in our odyssey. The plan is to transform the state into a regional trading hub for E-commerce and to airlift the startup ecosystem.
15. SITEC is tasked to encourage SMEs in Selangor to embrace E-commerce, and to widen their market in a borderless world. It aims to help SMEs in the state to go online by providing E-commerce education and training, and helping them to sell on online shopping platforms and mobile applications.
16. It is indeed significant that SITEC has also developed Selangor Digital Creative Centre (SDCC) which will offer innovation and enterprise culture to nurture startups especially SMEs. I am told that almost 80% of the spaces are already occupied. The formation of SDCC is part and parcel of our Smart Selangor policy. I therefore applaud Invest Selangor for seeing the realization of this initiative.
17. Secondly, and flowing from the first point, is that SDCC, by setting up its Maker Studio, is expected to play a crucial role in the Maker Movement and spur its dynamic expansion in Selangor. As we know, this is a technological and creative learning revolution that is happening worldwide.
18. New tools and technology are being invented at an unprecedented pace. The Maker Movement creates affordable or even free versions of inventions, while sharing tools and ideas online to create a vibrant, collaborative community of global problem-solvers.
Internet of Things
19. Thirdly, speaking of the Maker Movement one cannot escape the discourse also on the Internet of Things, that is, the network of “things” embedded with electronics, software, sensors, and network connectivity, which enables interfacing and data exchange.
20. We are no longer just thinking of how useful or essential are IT and the internet or how much we rely on computers, networks, mobile devices, and data centres. We must start thinking how they holistically interact with us. Think of remote controls and network infrastructure and integration between the physical world and the virtual world and improved efficiency, accuracy and economic benefit.
21. The success and spread of the Maker Movement will depend on how we will be connected in this titanic digital matrix. And in this interconnectedness, the quest for new solutions will be recurrent, generating huge demand and promoting even greater growth.
Dawn of a new era
22. These developments tell us we are witnessing the dawn of a new era in the history of mankind. Where once digital fabrication was the exclusive domain of big-name, powerful and richly funded corporations, the Maker Movement, as a social phenomenon, is enabling less wealthy individuals in society to contribute positively and productively.
23. Together with the Internet of Things, we will be seeing more individuals and humble startups planting the seeds of innovation and harvesting the fruits of their enterprise. All things being equal, I see this is as further empowerment of the individual and greater democratization of society.
24. Putting all these developments in perspective, our efforts to date in respect of transforming Selangor into a Smart State are still, in comparative terms, preliminary and formative. Nevertheless, there are no two ways about it. Moving the state forward in E-commerce, the Maker Movement and the Internet of Things can no longer be seen as a matter of choice but rather one of sheer necessity.
25. Let these be our initial steps in the direction towards making Selangor a regional player where we will compete on a much larger scale and take on bigger challenges.
26. As a state, Selangor is not the only new player on the regional block. Many new aspirants are appearing from emerging markets and businesses conduct their affairs across borders at the blink of an eye.
27. They compete for increasing market share, offering greater value for money for their products and services and constantly searching for and providing new solutions. We are new and we have many limitations but do we back off in the face of these challenges? I don’t think so.
28. As the 19th century French novelist, Gustave Flaubert once said:
“The most glorious moments in our lives are not the days of success, but rather those days when, out of failure and despair, we rise to the challenges and fulfil the promise of future accomplishments.”
29. So, in the face of the mounting challenges along the path to success, I believe that with conviction, drive and determination, we can reap even greater harvests.
30. The competition, however, is not only on the economic and commercial front but on the level of soft power and institutional socio-political values. A state’s, and for that matter, a nation’s success will be measured not just by its economic or business index but by the state of its democratic institutions, the rule of law, freedom and justice.
31. On that note and without further ado, it is with great pleasure and with an earnest prayer for our future success that I, in the name of God, the Beneficent and Merciful, launch the Selangor Digital Creative Centre.