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Getting Malaysia Ready for the Rise of AI

The Malaysian government plans to transform its technology landscape by emphasising artificial intelligence (AI) and data unification, with proposed changes to three legislations: amending the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA), introducing a new cybersecurity bill and enacting the Omnibus Data Protection Act, according to Minister of Communications and Digital Fahmi Fadzil.

“AI framework is under Mosti (the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation) and the ministry is supportive particularly in terms of infrastructure and scale up. For MDEC (Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation) and the ministry, we are looking at industry participation and infrastructure, in terms of deploying 5G networks and locations for big companies to land, as we anticipate the growth of AI.”

The government is planning to leverage AI to be used within and across government agencies. But for AI to work, the datasets at the back-end have to be unified for the peninsula, Sabah and Sarawak.

To move forward with the application of AI, Fahmi said, the Cabinet is planning to bring three key bills to the Parliament.

The first is the amendment to the PDPA. Second is a new bill for cybersecurity. The third is the Omnibus Data Protection Act. It is important to highlight that the PDPA covers particularly the private sector, whereas the Omnibus Data Protection Act will cover the government side largely and also help to regulate the data portability between government agencies.

Cybersecurity is an overall and overarching regulatory aspect or governance of cybersecurity matters in the country.

Economy Minister Rafizi Ramli told the Senate on June 19 that the government plans to table the Omnibus Act at Dewan Rakyat to allow sharing of data between all government agencies via the National Utility Database, or Pangkalan Data Utiliti Kebangsaan (Padu).

“These three bills will act as the fundamental basis for a lot of the work in terms of data unification data usage, but still safeguarding issues around data sovereignty and data protection,” he told a press conference at the Malaysia Digital Expo 2023 (MDX 2023) Grand Finale at Malaysia International Trade and Exhibition Centre (Mitec) on Monday.

The National Utility Database, which is currently housed with the Department of Statistics Malaysia (DOSM), will act as the main repository or depository for this unified data collection and data system.

“Along with that, there will be an effort of the government to initiate re-targeting of subsidies through the unified data collection and data system.”

MDEC chief executive officer Mahadhir Aziz said there is a huge potential of AI to be embedded within the government’s administration.

“The government is pushing the effort in deploying targeted subsidies and AI can help enhance some of that automation and operations. Although there are some aspects of the readiness with regards to safety of AI, Malaysia needs to equip ourselves for the technology to not be left behind.

“We already have documentation and a roadmap for an AI framework under Mosti that was developed and published two years ago, which shows that we are looking ahead. To be prepared for the AI growth, infrastructure, inclusivity of people accessing the technology and talent development are the most fundamental aspects as we progress,” he said.

Fahmi also presented an outlook on agriculture technology (Agritech), adding that ministry is looking to assist the Agriculture and Food Security Ministry (KPKM) in digitalising agriculture.

“There is a lot of potential for a system that costs within the range of RM15,000 to RM20,000 per system to be built across 500 agricultural sites for crop, livestock and fishing monitoring. MDEC’s agritech team is working with the Agriculture Department under KPKM to identify each farmer and organise a comprehensive digital registry.”

MDX 2023 is a six-week event that started with Malaysia Digital Content Festival (MYDCF) held in September and is culminating in the Grand Finale, which will be held until Nov 8.

Source: The Edge Markets

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