icomeUUM ONLINE: The COVID-19 pandemic has forced the world's population to move towards technology to shape the future much faster than anticipated.

Speaking at the 7th International Conference on Communication and Media 2020 (iCOME’20), the Minister of Communications and Multimedia, Dato’ Saifuddin Abdullah said technology would indeed influence the economy and industry in the future.

Commenting on the statement made by the Minister of Finance, Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz during the tabling of the 2021 Budget recently, he said the government is of the opinion that internet is the third most used utility after water and electricity.

This goes to show that the internet is the third utility and has evolved to become a national priority.

"Today, every facet of society faces technological challenges. Those who are well versed have already practiced it. Some are in 'progress' and some have not yet become accustomed to technology.

"For developing countries, technology is of utmost importance. In fact, the COVID-19 pandemic has urged us to move towards technology faster than anticipated," he said when officiating iCOME'20 organised by SMMTC recently.

He said countries should be prepared to face future challenges as technology evolves and the current generation is born into it.

Therefore, according to him, preparations must be made to embrace the digital era. When it arrives, people would be ready to utilize it, particularly as they go about living their lives in the era of Industrial Revolution 4.0 and digital economy.  This aspiration would be in tandem with the government's efforts to form the national digital agenda.

Nonetheless, he said that it would be pointless in talking about 4.0 technology if the facilities and internet network were still at an unsatisfactory level.

At the event, he thanked and extended his heartiest congratulations to UUM for organising iCOME’20, aptly themed ‘Breaking the barriers, inspiring tomorrow’.

Meanwhile, the Vice-Chancellor, Prof Dato’ Dr Ahmad Bashawir said the COVID-19 epidemic had affected the lives of the people and had caused severe economic downturn around the world.

According to him, governments around the world are still struggling to revive their respective economies.

He said, following the prolonged Movement Control Order (MCO), the Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin admitted that Malaysia lost MYR2.4 billion daily during the period of the enforcement of MCO due to the massive suspension of economic activities.

"It is inevitable, the closure brought about major consequences to the economy where people from all walks of life were affected.

"Therefore, to ensure that we can survive and continue to live our lives, everyone needs to break down barriers in today's communication and change the way things are done," said him through Webex.

He added that various sectors needed to make changes. The unprecedented pandemic has taught everyone valuable experience and lessons. As such everyone should seize this opportunity to understand and learn from the effects of different behaviours.

According to him, the organisation of iCOME at a time when the country was hit by the spread of Covid-19 was timely because it provided an ideal platform for scholars and experts in the field of communication and media to share their research findings, while establishing potential cooperation in developing positive research findings.

He said the convergence of the Communications and Multimedia sector demanded that Malaysia adapt to the rapidly changing landscape to remain globally competitive.

"Understanding that this new industrial revolution brings greater and more complex challenges, the Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) has prepared Malaysia with policies and opportunities for the communications and multimedia industry," he said.