KOTA KINABALU: Digitalisation is imperative to tackle poverty, especially among suburban and rural folk, said PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.
“We must embrace technology in order to move forward. Otherwise, we would be left behind and the poor will become poorer,” he said when speaking at the ‘Digital Native Agenda (DNA23): The Challenges and Way Forward’ dialogue at Universiti Malaysia Sabah Tuesday night.
Anwar stressed that digitalisation in various sectors, namely education and the workplace, was the solution to not only improve standard of living but increase productivity as a whole.
“With DNA23, we want digitalisation to be ingrained in our society, as part of the Malaysian DNA. Only then would we be able to advance.
“When we talk about digitalisation, it has to be comprehensive at all levels. We must bridge the gap between urban and rural folks, otherwise the rich will become richer and the poor will become poorer. Digitalisation cannot be mastered by urban folk only.
“One of the ways to ensure a balanced digitalisation is to implement it in education. Universities, for example, should become smart universities to expose students to digital technology and ensure they have knowledge in it,” said Anwar.
He said DNA23 should be the main agenda so as to improve the economy, especially among rural communities. The longer it is delayed, the worse conditions would be for them, Anwar stressed.
“Without digitalisation, there would be no digital economy, which has proven to be beneficial for rural communities.
“The Rungus community, for example, are very good at making beaded handicrafts. With the help of mobile applications, they are now able to penetrate the international market.
“They, who never even thought of a market outside Sabah, now have customers from as far as Italy thanks to digital economy.
“Another example is a mobile application which allows fishermen to check the market price of fish, which then enables them to bargain.
“A group of young graduates set up a platform where they compiled all the lorries in their village, and created something like Grab.
“These avenues have all proven to increase the incomes of these communities. We shouldn’t have the mindset that digitalisation should be delayed because other problems should be addressed first. We have to move forward,” Anwar emphasised.