More millennials in middle management can put the private sector in a good position to carve out the full benefits of digitalization when the economy recovers, prominent entrepreneur Datuk Seri Vijay Eswaran said.

The QI Group founder and executive chairman said companies could set a human resource target of 30% millennials in middle management, if they want to exploit digitalization and compete successfully in regional and global markets.

This is more so once the economy recovers after the ravaging Covid-19 pandemic, that could be sooner than later, owing to new treatment protocols and the national vaccination programme gaining momentum.

“With e-commerce the way of the future and young people naturally switched on to social media and the Internet, Malaysia will be well placed to penetrate ASEAN’s 600 million market.

“Why survive on a market of 30 million people, when we can leverage a regional populace of 600 million in Southeast Asia, particularly when we look to the future to activate centennials and the Alpha generation,” he said today.

However, he said Malaysia was lagging behind vis-à-vis companies from Singapore, Vietnam, Indonesia and even Cambodia and Laos, which were moving forward at incredible speeds regionally using mobile technologies and support from the liberal environment back home.

Malaysian firms were being held back due to rules and regulations, equity conditions, customs duties and taxation, many of which were archaic, including cumbersome banking procedures.

“Bureaucracy, either from the government or private sector, must step out of the way of business,” said Vijay.

Many local firms could not compete in ASEAN as old practices, some inherited from British rule, raised costs and made local products for export, especially using imported raw materials, uncompetitive.

In efforts to harness the potential of millennials and centennials in e-commerce, QI group was already beefing up the employment of 25 to 30-years-old in middle management, he said.

Providing ample opportunities, investing in young people, business loans, relaxing banking laws as opposed to handing out one-off cash payments, is the answer to making the economy competitive in the digital era and over the long-term after the pandemic.

“There must be ways and means to get these young people and engage them in business.

“Young people, whose life is premised on smart phones, come with new ideas and fresh concepts and challenge authority, forcing those ingrained in out-of-date practices to change and upgrade themselves.

“This will take Malaysia forward in the regional and global arena which is already fraught with digital market challenges,” he said.

He recalled the often-touted success of Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan and Dubai, which started with little or no resources at all but evolved into metropolitan hubs, due solely to their liberal business environment.

“We are too protective, too molly-coddling, so we must change otherwise they cannot survive in an increasingly open and globalized market environment.”

To suggestions that the economic fallout might force mergers and acquisitions when the economy recovers, he said the government should instead foster partnerships.

He said QI was a perfect example where the conglomerate forged partnerships in 25 countries to promote its products globally.

To this end, he said the government should seriously exploit Malaysia’s distinct advantage in its multi-culturalism, which forged a far more interactive mindset to create more entrepreneurs operating in a liberal trading and investment environment.

Vijay also lauded cottage entrepreneurs in rural areas who could rise to the occasion in penetrating markets even producing the humble “jeruk” or pickles, as well as organic vegetables, cupcakes, etc, but should be given the support in embracing payment systems like in China.

He also cited how in Hong Kong, where Qnet – part of the QI group – is headquartered, “it takes an easy 10 minutes to open an account”.

On the contrary, in the Malaysian banking system, he said, “You need 25 forms, be physically there and a thumb print to go with that, how archaic is that… how do we expect e-payments to evolve or for small business or micro-entrepreneurs to survive.”

To raise Malaysia’s competitiveness to penetrate ASEAN, he said support should be given to small and medium enterprises which comprise 85%-90% of the manufacturing sector.

“Evidently, putting up walls and not building bridges, as well as customs duties and taxation across ASEAN will always be an Achilles heel.”

And for digitalization and digitizing the masses to occur, which are necessary pre-requisites to transform business, he said the government should undo the barriers to trade in a comprehensive manner. – (The Edge)


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