How do you use technology to improve citizens’ lives? Tell us about your role or organisation.

We have a vision for Digital Malaysia to enable the country’s digital economy so that Malaysians and our country’s businesses can thrive within this new business environment.

The digital economy is now one of the key underlying aspects of the real economy, acting as both driver and catalyst. From our perspective, it is about building and nurturing a vibrant domestic ICT industry, transformative use of digital solutions by government, businesses and citizens, as well as the constant nurturing of robust enabling ecosystem.

In line with this, MDEC changed its name this year from Multimedia Development Corp to Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation which coincides with our 20th year anniversary earlier this year. Our new name aims to reflect our overarching objective and mandate of facilitating the growth of our nation’s digital economy, which in turn contributes to Malaysia’s total gross domestic product (GDP).

This year, MDEC registered a growth of 56% in approved investments and foreign direct investments in 2015. Total investment inflow from companies we supported through the MSC Malaysia scheme reached RM19.8 billion (US$4.4 billion) last year; and MDEC recorded its highest increase in new investments since its establishment 20 years ago.

What advice can you share from your experience in 2016?

I cannot stress enough the importance of scaling up local companies to become global icons. We do have them in our fold – the likes of Silverlake, a renowned solutions provider for the global fintech industry, Fusionex, a multi-award winning Analytics and Big Data company that is based in Malaysia and listed in the London Stock Exchange.

We have set up the the MDEC Global Acceleration Innovation Network to identify companies that have the potential to develop into major global icons, such as Sedania Innovator and iPay88. Through our newly set-up Silicon Valley office, we have successfully connected 21 of such companies to the SV ecosystem of mentors, accelerators and venture capitalists (VCs). Hence, there is a critical need to fast track local MSC companies to enter and compete in the global marketplace.

That said, it’s also important that we help smaller local companies with technologies at the heart of today’s digital disruption to scale up. Companies like Speedminer, that delivers sentiment analysis technology, and Neuramatix, a pioneering machine learning company, are amongst those that MDEC has successfully nurtured.

What issues particularly interest you for 2017 and beyond?

In a world where innovation is so fast paced and where change is the only constant, Malaysia needs to be continuously focused so that we continue to be leading in key areas of enabling fundamentals.

We’ve made significant strides in access over the years with high speed broadband. Currently, internet penetration stands at 68.6% of population. Optimising the regulatory framework to improve both access and speed is where you must strike the right balance.

Just as important is investing in our young talent. The opportunities from the fourth industrial revolution are about creating value for social economic impact. It’s been said that this would require those who dream the important dreams. Hence, it’s about creating a “society of dreamers and doers”.

The third thing we must do apart from the fundamentals – human capital, investments – concerns the ecosystem and nurturing public-private partnerships.

What is the most exciting trend emerging in the region?

The convergence of big data analytics, IOT and the platform economy is the most exciting trend. These technologies along with emerging ones, like virtual reality, 3D printing and drones, are underpinning seismic shifts in today’s digital economy.

Who is your hero and why?

My mother, who was a teacher in a small village. Her vision for her children has made us who we are today.

And finally, if you could recommend us one place to eat, where would it be?

My favourite would be Penang food at Lorong Seratus Tahun in SS2, Petaling Jaya.