So far this year, Malaysia has had its youth age limit lowered, its voting age lowered, and had a paid government internship initiative carried out by Syed Saddiq, the Minister of Youth and Sports, in line with his youth empowerment initiative.
On the 6th of August, 3 startup founders were appointed as youth leaders to the National Economic Action Council (NEAC) to provide insight on issues related to the cost of living, employment, poverty and home ownership.
The 3 startups are in different industries with TheLorry being a digital logistics platform, RinggitPlus being a FinTech (financial technology) company and Hartabumi being a PropTech (property technology) company.
The NEAC is the highest body tasked to formulate economic policies in Malaysia, so the appointment of youth leaders who are well-versed in the digital economy marks another important development in Syed Saddiq’s youth agenda in nation-building.
With this appointment comes expectations and responsibilities, so we contacted the 3 startup founders to learn a little more about what they’ll be doing in the NEAC along with what Malaysians can expect from their appointment.
Their Roles And Purposes In The NEAC
Regarding what his role in the NEAC would imply, Radzi of Hartabumi said, “As far as the 3 of us are concerned, we have to give input on how to make Malaysia in line with what’s happening regarding the IR 4.0, the digital economy, artificial intelligence.”
Radzi would be putting forward suggestions of how home ownership can be made more accessible to every segment of society.
“Housing prices are expensive, people’s income is insufficient, the challenges faced in getting home financing—these are the things that the NEAC will tackle so this is where I believe I can play some part in getting the right policy formulated for a comprehensive outcome.”
Nadhir of TheLorry explained, “Our role, the 3 of us, is to provide a unique angle to the council in the sense that we represent a more ‘youth’ angle, we see things in a completely different picture as opposed to the experienced cast members that are already contributing.”
He went on to say, “We provide a very unique point of view in terms of digital economy and technology, more so in that the government at the moment is, I suppose, depending on IR 4.0 as their core competitive advantage that they see will help us propel Malaysia’s economy in the coming years.”
RinggitPlus’ Ooi Hann echoed Radzi and Nadhir’s explanations of their general roles in the NEAC, adding that his specific area of expertise would mean that he’ll be involved with issues of financial literacy, cost of living and digital financial services.
“As a member, members don’t set the agenda, however, when specific agenda items relating to those things come up, my area of expertise will be in a subset of those.”
“For example, in any major economic or policy issues that get discussed in that council, I would expect my role or my input to be from the angle of either digital economy or financial services.”
Something Already In The Works
“I strongly believe that there are so many things that technology can play a role in, and that it can be further utilised,” Radzi told us.
“For example, one of the papers that me, Nadhir and Ooi Hann are working together on is a suggestion to reduce the price of ikan kembung (mackerel) in Malaysia and at the same time increasing the fishermen’s income through digital solutions.”
“So, we’re suggesting to use marketplace, Lazada, Shopee and at the same time improving the logistics industry so that things can become more efficient so that we are basically revamping the whole ecosystem, the whole supply chain.”
He said that this is already being done in several countries like China and Japan, and that the NEAC is the best platform for them to present their ideas through.
Moving Towards A Youth-Inclusive Political Arena
Ooi Hann had 2 main thoughts on Malaysia becoming more youth-inclusive in terms of policy-making.
“Regardless of where you draw the line on where youths are, youths by any definition make up a very large percentage of the country. For me, I’m actually honoured to represent the youth voice in the highest economic council in the country.”
His other thought was that “it’s not just about youth, it’s about youth and the digital economy. Being a digital leader, equally important is to ensure that whatever policy, decisions or guidance that we produce to the cabinet takes the digital revolution or IR 4.0 into account in every decision-making process.”
Radzi sees their appointments to the NEAC as a milestone for the youth in Malaysia to be recognised in terms of policy-making, particularly pertaining to the economy.
He commended the Prime Minister and YB Syed Saddiq on recognising the importance of youths in formulating the government’s economy policy because “at the end of the day, youths are one of the largest stakeholders in the country.”
“The voice of the youth and the voice of Malaysian tech startups, the voice of Malaysian digital economy players needs to be heard and I think that’s the reason why we’re being put here,” Nadhir said.
While proud to be a part of it all, he admitted that his first experience of an NEAC meeting was extremely daunting, a recollection which he detailed in a casual Facebook post.
Featured Image Credit: Liew Ooi Hann’s Facebook