Tech Revolution in Malaysia

Tech Revolution in Malaysia

Rapid technological development has brought about AI and automation on an unprecedented scale. It’s estimated that 40 to 50 percent of workers with low education are at risk of automation by the mid-2030s.  

This article on the tech revolution in Malaysia examines aspects of the post-pandemic era, examining how organizations respond towards the impact of automation and technology on job availability. It also examines decisions by policymakers and business leaders on aspects of cybersecurity management and data and privacy protection. 


Malaysia is the fourth largest economy in Southeast Asia. The country hosts a large number of knowledge-based enterprises and advanced manufacturing technology. Malaysia has high labor productivity, with the labor productivity per hour increasing by 3.4% in 2020 according to the Department of Statistics, Malaysia.  

Malaysia is still heavily reliant on the manufacturing and agricultural industries which accounted for 44.7% of the GDP in 2019. The automotive industry alone employed 700,000 people and contributed to 4% of the GDP in 2016. However, these are all changing as Malaysia transitions into a post-industrial economy and traditional manufacturing, mining and agricultural jobs are being replaced by machinery. 

Impact of Automation and Technology on Job Availability 

Automation and technology have already caused some economic consequences for Malaysia. For one, it has increased social tension. Large firms profit the most from automation, however, it leaves most low-skilled Malaysian workers unemployed.  

Large firms would benefit the most if they replaced 50% of their labor with technology. While this requires an initial investment and regular maintenance, it cuts production costs and increases overall productivity as machines can work 24 hours a day. This would drive up the profit margins for the company, allowing them to invest in training new workers and increasing their wages.  

Does this shift to automation mean that 50% of Malaysian workers will be unemployed? No, it doesn’t. 

As old jobs are taken over by machines, new jobs will be created for workers. Opportunities for new jobs and industries will open to operate the modern technology. The workforce needs to be ready to upskill their labor to adapt to the changing market. 

Technological advancement is sure to face a lot of resistance from displaced workers. When workers are unable or unwilling to adapt to the changes that automation and technology bring, they face several problems.  

Millions would be rendered unemployed and would struggle to meet their everyday expenses without a stable income. This rise in unemployment would worsen social problems and increase crime rates, discouraging investors and limiting national income. 

Malaysia is pressed to find a balance between automation and employment. Both the government and private sector must do their part to gracefully transition into automation without driving unemployment too high. 

Cybersecurity Management and Data and Privacy Protection 

Cybersecurity issues came to Malaysia’s attention throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Between January to May 2021, a total of 4,615 cybersecurity incidents were reported with the three highest being fraud, intrusion, and malicious code. Malaysia does not currently have a specific law addressing cybersecurity offenses. Enforcement agencies must rely on existing laws such as the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 (CMA), the Defamation Act 1957 and the Sedition Act 1948, to combat cyberthreats.  

In 2021, the Prime Minister of Malaysia Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin launched the MyDIGITAL initiative – a new and comprehensive approach designed to anchor the country’s digital economy by year 2030. Prior to this, the Minister of Communications and Multimedia announced that they identified gaps within the Personal Data Protection Act 2010 (PDPA) compared to personal data protection legislation in Japan, South Korea, and the European Union. He also announced that public consultations would be held to discuss amendments to the PDPA. 

The PDPA is the comprehensive cross-sectoral framework for the protection of personal data within commercial transactions. It aims to protect the four areas of personal data collection forms and privacy notice, internal standard operating procedures for personal data management within the organization, person in charge of personal data management within the organization and his or her awareness of the legal requirements, and compliance with the seven data protection principles in the PDPA. 

Malaysia still has a long way to go when it comes to cybersecurity management and data protection, but they are moving in the right direction. Enhancing the PDPA and implementing specific laws against cybercrime would be timely and empowering for organizations and consumers alike.  

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