For visitors and businesses alike, Malaysia presents a veritable melting pot of different cultures – but a recent statement from the country's Communication and Multimedia Minister, Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek, has revealed an area where differences are less evident: the digital divide.
Speaking to reporters at the Infocomm Media Business Exchange exhibition at the Marina Bay Sands Convention and Expo Centre in Singapore, Minster Ahmad Shabery pointed to the fact that broadband coverage in Malaysia is more than 60 per cent when compared with “similar countries with scattered urban and rural areas”.
Importantly, although Minister Ahmad Shabery readily admits Malaysia isn't quite as technologically advanced as some of its Southeast Asian neighbours – Singapore, for example – he was quick to explain that the country should be viewed as a model for other countries looking to implement wireless villages and close their own populations' digital divide.
Crucially, Minister Ahmad Shabery also warned that there should be no sanctions on internet content and claimed an “open-sky” policy would benefit “all strata of society”.
But now that Malaysia can be considered a shining example of broadband success, what does a decreasing digital divide mean for a business looking to establish a foothold in the Malaysian market?
Most obviously, with a population thirstily grasping broadband opportunities with both hands, recent revelations make interesting reading for businesses involved in the technological sector. As internet use grows, the demand for high-tech products increases – that much is obvious.
Keeping up with this demand, then, and introducing pioneering new items into a burgeoning market makes perfect business sense. In addition, the widespread internet coverage enjoyed by the demographic your business is targeting is an added bonus.
As always, considering the ethnic diversity of Malaysia's population, it pays to comprehensively research potential products and business partners before entering into any negotiations, as one wrong step is all it takes to hinder your firm's foray into a potentially lucrative market.