PETALING JAYA: Malaysia continues to be a preferred business destination for investors, particularly for data centre, in Asean, says Communications and Digital Minister Fahmi Fadzil.

The is evident from the total proposed investments of RM63.02bil secured from US companies, mainly technology giants, during the 50th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) Economic Leaders’ Meeting, recently.

He said the government is dedicated to creating governance frameworks, public policy and regulatory frameworks, as there has been an increase in interest in the role that Malaysia may play in hosting data centres.

“We are prepared to engage with businesses and organisations in order to have a robust and future-ready ecosystem, given that Malaysia will chair Asean in 2025.

“At this stage, different countries within Asean possess slightly different preparedness when it comes to regulatory framework, particularly around data protection.

“As such, we will not only be working on economic framework agreement but also working with my counterparts to accelerate the development of regulatory frameworks within Asean to make sure its 660 million people are more ready to embrace and participate in the digital economy,” he said.

He said this at the launch of the Digital Transformation Leaders’ CxO Summit.

Fahmi said the Malaysian public, particularly businesses, need to be convinced on how technologies, including 5G, could help to not only reduce cost, increase efficiency and productivity but fundamentally shift and bring some changes to organisations.

He said with the country being a sought-after destination by investors, the government would collaborate and forge stronger ties with organisations like GSMA as well as provide a framework that is more “future-ready”.

As Malaysia’s coverage of populated areas (CoPA) is currently at 73% as at end-October 2023, the government has agreed on the establishment of a second 5G network.

The government is also looking into the data embassy concept as well as reviving the country as a Digital Free Trade Zone that was initially launched in 2018.

“This matter has not yet been decided by the government but we will start conducting a few researches as there are several parties that have their own views on the concept of data sovereignty,” he said.

Fahmi said no policy decision has been made but it is a concept that must be explored.

“We need to balance it with the cyber security law that is being drafted as well as amendments to the personal data protection act and the omnibus data protection act that will be brought to Parliament in the first quarter of next year,” he added.

On a separate note, Fahmi said the share subscription agreement (SSA) with Digital Nasional Bhd (DNB) is expected to be signed in the near future.

“We hope in the near future we will hold an SSA signing ceremony and I hope it will be very soon,” he said.

Previously, Fahmi had stated the dual 5G model rollout would only be done after DNB has hit 80% CoPA. He said the data for November’s CoPA would only be disclosed once the statistics have been collected and announced.