CIMB ASEAN Research Institute releases new publication “Advancing ASEAN in the digital age”: Prominent government and business leaders caution ASEAN’s readiness to embrace Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) in the coming decades

On December 4, 2017

CIMB ASEAN Research Institute releases new publication “Advancing ASEAN in the digital age”: Prominent government and business leaders caution ASEAN’s readiness to embrace Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) in the coming decades


CIMB ASEAN Research Institute (CARI) launched new publication titled “Advancing ASEAN in the Digital Age” at the ASEAN Business and Investment Summit 2017 in Manila to commemorate ASEAN’s 50th Anniversary. Standing from left Dato’ Sri Nazir Razak, Chairman of CIMB Group; Tan Sri Dr. Munir Majid, Chairman of CARI; and Jose Ma. “Joey” A. Concepcion III, 2017 Chair of the ASEAN Business Advisory Council.

CIMB ASEAN Research Institute in collaboration with the ASEAN Business Club releases new publication “Advancing ASEAN in the digital age”: Prominent government and business leaders caution ASEAN’s readiness to embrace Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) in the coming decades

Manila, 14 November 2017 – CIMB ASEAN Research Institute (CARI) launched a publication titled “Advancing ASEAN in the Digital Age” at the ASEAN Business and Investment Summit 2017 today to commemorate ASEAN’s 50th Anniversary.

The publication was jointly launched by Jose Ma. “Joey” A. Concepcion III, 2017 Chair of the ASEAN Business Advisory Council, Dato’ Sri Nazir Razak, Chairman of CIMB Group, as well as Tan Sri Dr. Munir Majid, Chairman of CARI.

Published by CARI, in collaboration with the ASEAN Business Club (ABC), the book captures the thoughts and ideas of business leaders, thought leaders, as well as policymakers on how the digital age will impact the economic prosperity of the region.

ASEAN, with a population of 634 million, half of which are below the age of 30, is touted as one of the fastest growing Internet regions in the world. With 50 years of history under ASEAN’s belt, this publication captures what the policymakers and business leaders believe to be the most important opportunities for ASEAN countries and businesses as well as the potential pitfalls.

The publication contains 37 articles, including those by heads of government, the Honourable Malcolm Turnbull, Prime Minister of Commonwealth of Australia; Yang Amat Berhormat Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib Razak, Prime Minister of Malaysia; and H.E. Hun Sen, Prime Minister of Kingdom of Cambodia, and several other ministers in ASEAN.

Tan Sri Dr. Munir Majid, who is the President of ABC, stated: “There is great excitement and expectation in the Asean region about the Digital Age. Some estimates have it that the Digital Revolution will add US$1 trillion to Asean’s GDP by the end of 2025, that the digital economy alone will then be worth US$200 billion before rising rapidly. However there are challenges that must be addressed to achieve this. Asean must rise to this better than the typical “Asean Way”. Asean human capital must be fit for purpose – this means far better education and training than presently offered. This means retraining for new capabilities. No regulations that inhibit innovation and creativity within or across borders. Most of all, low cost manufacturing employment can no longer work to attract investment. Indeed work has to be found for those waiting to be employed in ASEAN’s populous countries.”

While each writer is optimistic about the digital wave that is sweeping over the region, many are also cautious of the preparation and policies required to ensure that each member state benefits from the fourth industrial revolution (4IR). From ideas for improving the education system to the dramatic effect 4IR will have on the business systems and operations, the book provides insights from leaders in industries ranging from banking and finance to automotive, services and media.

Malaysian Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib Razak wrote that Malaysia is not only preparing itself, but is also preparing to be a leader in the 4IR. Prime Minister Najib highlighted the various initiatives Malaysia has in place to leverage the digital economy, including the most recent establishment of the Digital Free Trade Zone.

In his article, Prime Minister Hun Sen is very optimistic of Cambodia’s potential to tap into the economic benefits of the digital age. He advises that ASEAN must prepare its younger generations with the ICT digital literacy and skills to prepare for the future jobs that might not exist yet, to catch up fast with more developed ASEAN peers and encourage technological advancements through the promotion of science, technology and innovation-driven projects and R&D and to ensure that the digital economy does not widen inequality in the region.

Similarly, Indonesian Finance Minister Sri Mulyani calls for governments to take the correct action to facilitate the advent of the new economy. “In the public policy spectrum, the requirements are, inter alia, creation of an environment which puts forward the principle of fair competitive business, promote investment in digital infrastructure and digital education, and to develop a supporting regulatory framework related to digital technology developments in order to establish an innovative, inclusive, secured and integrated digitally-connected region,” she wrote.

Vietnam’s Minister of International Trade Tran Tuan Anh noted that Vietnam is fast preparing for the digital age by embracing a motto of “Industry 4.0” with Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc directing the country to focus on ICT infrastructure development and promoting start-ups with innovative technology. Vietnam has also been developing “smart cities” across the country including cities such as Hanoi, Can Tho, Da Nang and Binh Duong with Ho Chi Minh City expected to become the “Silicon Valley of the Pacific”.

On a more urgent and reflective note, Dato’ Sri Nazir Razak, Chairman of CIMB Group said that ASEAN needs to recalibrate its way of doing things. “The ‘ASEAN Way’ is not to force any issue on anyone. The temptation now must be to persevere with the successful ‘ASEAN Way’, but we must not, because what got us here will not get us there. We have entered the 4IR – an era of accelerated change and one that will be unforgiving to those who cannot keep pace. ASEAN needs to recognise the limitations of its ‘ASEAN Way’ to face the future. It must relook at its priorities as well as governance and institutional frameworks for economic integration in the context of the shortcomings of the ASEAN Economic Community project and the 4IR.”

Prominent business leaders from 19 leading companies and nine ASEAN countries as well as dialogue partners Australia, New Zealand, the European Union, China, the United States and Japan have also shared their views. These companies are AirAsia Group, Allianz, Arup, Augen Software Group, Ayala Corporation, Bangkok Bank, BMW Asia Group, Bosch Southeast Asia, CIMB Group, GE ASEAN, Google Malaysia, Vietnam, Philippines and New Emerging Markets, HSBC Asia-Pacific, IDG Ventures Vietnam, Linfox International Group, The Lippo Group of Companies, Nikkei Inc., SM Investments Corporation, SokSiphana&associates and Tencent.

Knowledge partners for this publication are: Accenture, A.T. Kearney and McKinsey & companies. Contributing writers for the publication are:

  1. The Honourable Malcolm Turnbull Prime Minister of Commonwealth of Australia
  2. Yang Amat Berhormat Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib Razak Prime Minister of Malaysia
  3. H.E. Hun Sen Prime Minister of Kingdom of Cambodia
  4. Dato’ Sri Nazir Razak (CIMB Group)
  5. Tan Sri Dr. Munir Majid (CIMB ASEAN Research Institute)
  6. H.E. Sri Mulyani Indrawati (Ministry of Finance, Indonesia)
  7. Yang Berhormat Dato’ Sri Mustapa bin Mohamed (Ministry of International Trade and Industry, Malaysia)
  8. H.E. Tran Tuan Anh (Ministry of Industry and Trade Viet Nam)
  9. The Honourable Pehin Dato Lim Jock Seng (Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Brunei)
  10. H.E. Dr. Lim Hong Hin (ASEAN Secretariat)
  11. H.E. Ong Keng Yong (S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies)
  12. Tan Sri Andrew Sheng (Asia Global Institute, The University of Hong Kong)
  13. Tan Sri Tony Fernandes (AirAsia Group)
  14. George Sartorel (Allianz)
  15. Steve Turner and LiYu Tseng (Arup)
  16. Peter Vile and Mitchell Pham (Augen Software Group and Kiwi Connection Tech Hub)
  17. Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala (Ayala Corporation)
  18. Chartsiri Sophonpanich (Bangkok Bank)
  19. Paul de Courtois (BMW Asia Group)
  20. Martin Hayes (Bosch Southeast Asia)
  21. Manu Bhaskaran (CIMB ASEAN Research Institute and Centennial Group)
  22. Tunku Zain Al-’Abidin (CIMB ASEAN Research Institute)
  23. Donald Kanak (EU-ASEAN Business Council)
  24. Wouter Van Wersch (GE ASEAN)
  25. Sajith Sivanandan (Google Malaysia, Viet Nam, Philippines and New Emerging Markets)
  26. Kevin Ross Martin (HSBC Asia-Pacific)
  27. Henry Nguyen (IDG Ventures Vietnam)
  28. James Evans (Linfox International Group)
  29. Dr. James Riady (The Lippo Group of Companies)
  30. Naotoshi Okada (Nikkei Inc.)
  31. Dr. Od. Phongsavanh (Phongsavanh Group)
  32. Teresita Sy Coson (SM Investments Corporation)
  33. H.E Dr. Sok Siphana (Royal Government of Cambodia)
  34. Ma Huateng (Tencent)
  35. Accenture
  36. A.T. Kearney
  37. McKinsey & Company
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