In order to emerge stronger and more resilient amidst the ‘new normal’, Malaysia will need to have competent leadership, a stable and empathetic government, as well as an innovative and adaptable economy.

It also requires a new societal framework that ultimately serves the people and prioritisation of natural security and sovereignty issues whilst balancing the needs for global solidarity.

Looking at Malaysia’s commodity-based economy, major industries must improve downstream product diversification and businesses must innovate through digital transformation.

The recent resumption of partial lockdowns (CMCO) has many business owners and SMEs nervous. The first lockdown (MCO) caused severe damage to the local economy, which had only just barely begun to transform digitally. This resurgence of Covid-19 cases comes at a horrible time as many companies are still in the midst of transforming their companies.

With the pandemic accelerating digital migration, Malaysian SMEs cannot afford to be left behind.

Tech start-ups and existing SMEs should fully utilise programmes under the overarching National Digital Economy Masterplan spearheaded by Malaysian Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) and the National Technology Innovation Sandbox spearheaded by Ministry of Science, Technology, and Innovation. These initiatives provide accelerated access to the various promotional and funding agencies.

In order to not be left behind on the global economic stage, Malaysia needs to leverage its unique advantages in order to play a leading role.

Due to being a progressive Muslim-majority country, Malaysia should put more focus on being a global hub for the halal industry, a market which is still filled with opportunities.

Additionally, With one of the oldest rainforests and the richest biodiversity in the world, Malaysia should protect its ecological assets under national security, and capitalise on this to become a hub for natural drug discovery and eco-tourism.

A nationwide theme harmonising tech and nature at the heart of nation-building and architecture not found anywhere in the world. This sets Malaysia apart as a unique, global eco-tech tourism hotspot.

Malaysia currently lags behind several of its Southeast Asian neighbours in digital adoption and economic competitiveness, but with some work and effort put it, it should be able to climb back up the ladder through its untapped advantages.

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