Future Proofing Selangor

Malaysia’s Golden State Aims to be a Premier Smart State

Whether it is being the single largest contributor to the national GDP, accounting for a quarter of the country’s revenue, or producing the highest number of graduates and creating the most employment opportunities, there are many reasons why Selangor deserves its moniker as “Malaysia’s Golden State”. Having already reached the pinnacle of the nation, Selangor is setting its eyes and ambitions further afield to move up the value chain. This is where Smart Selangor comes in.


Driven by Menteri Besar Selangor Incorporated (MBI Selangor), through its subsidiary the Smart Selangor Delivery Unit (SSDU), the Smart Selangor initiative aims to transform Selangor into being ASEAN’s premier Smart State by the year 2025.

According to Selangor Menteri Besar (Chief Minister) Tuan Amirudin Shari, “As a Smart State, Selangor will use the latest technologies and innovations to provide solutions to the needs and problems of the Rakyat, as well as enhance its socio-economic prospects and create more high-value opportunities for businesses and investments.”

The purpose of this, he said, is to future proof Selangor and in doing so future proof Malaysia. He also noted that while there are many initiatives to develop smart cities in the world, Selangor is the only one that aims to be a Smart State. This means taking the smart city concept outside of established urban hubs and rolling it out to everyone in Selangor – from urbanites to rural folks – thus ensuring that they can reap its benefits.

A Launchpad for a Smart State


In order to ensure Smart Selangor’s success, it is important to get the buy-in from stakeholders. As such, MBI Selangor, together with The IBR Asia Group (IBR), organised the Selangor Synergies Forums, where seven talks were held from 2017 to 2019, touching on Business Opportunities in Selangor, Emerging Technologies, Sustainability, Smart Living, Connectivity, Transportation and the Selangor Maritime Gateway. 

“Selangor is Malaysia. Our success is Malaysia’s success. By future proofing Selangor through becoming a Smart State, we are future proofing Malaysia.”

 – Tuan Amirudin Shari, Menteri Besar of Selangor

The success of these forums, which drew in top decision from both the public and private sectors, spurred MBI and IBR to come up with a larger platform to highlight the Smart Selangor initiative to a wider audience. Starting out in Malaysia, the plan – Tuan Amriudin revealed – is to create a launching pad that will take Selangor and its aims to become ASEAN’s premier Smart State to beyond the country.

“The world is changing at an incredible rate. If we aren’t ready, we’ll be left behind. That is why it’s important to predict what obstacles lie ahead and effectively plan how to overcome them,” the Menteri Besar noted.

Thus, the Selangor, Regional Powerhouse forum was conceptualised. A high-level platform to discuss issues pertaining to the implementation of the Smart Selangor initiative and Selangor as a whole, the aim is take the State’s message to a wider audience, not just in Malaysia but in ASEAN, the Asia-Pacific and beyond.

More than that, the forum will enable Selangor to exchange knowledge with other cities, states and nations. By showcasing Selangor as a thought and innovation leader in certain fields, while drawing from the experiences of others, the State will create the ecosystem that will strengthen it and the nation.

As the Menteri Besar said, “The most important step is to future proof Malaysia. And to do that we must future proof Selangor. One of our goals is that, by 2025, we want Selangor to be the premier Smart State, not just in Malaysia but also within the ASEAN region. But what will we do after that? We can’t just sit on our laurels. It is vital that Selangor can sustain this achievement 50 years down the line.”

“Selangor’s socio-economic development runs parallel to that of the nation, and has done so for a long time. To borrow a phrase from Tourism Malaysia, if Malaysia is Truly Asia, then Selangor is Truly Malaysia.”

 – Raja Shahreen Raja Othman, CEO, MBI Selangor

Selangor Menteri Besar Tuan Amirudin Shari with MBI Selangor CEO Raja Shahreen during a press conference at the Selangor. Regional Powerhouse forum.

Setting the Ball Rolling

Selangor. Regional Powerhouse Sets the Stage for a Smarter Selangor

Organised by MBI Selangor and The IBR Asia Group, and held at KL Hilton Hotel on 23 July 2019, the inaugural Selangor. Regional Powerhouse forum brought around 500 high-level persons from Ministries, government agencies, corporations (ranging from prominent SMEs to MNCs and GLCs) and embassies, to hear policy makers and industry representatives discuss the strategies to bring about a Smart Selangor.

“I am impressed by how Selangor. Regional Powerhouse was able to bring a variety of stakeholders from industries. This will prove very useful in narrowing down the State government’s focus to hearing out the needs and aspirations of industry players, particularly in areas such as the restoration of infrastructure, technological investments and the move towards a digital economy.”

Madeleine Roach, Head of Global Financial Services Asia-Pacific, AstraZeneca


“The quality of the conversations and the intelligence of the panellists themselves are unmatched compared with other conferences that I have attended. I could also see the effort that went into crafting the results and fulfilling audience expectations, which is absolutely wonderful.”

Randhill Singh, General Manager of Land Development at Malaysia Airports


Plenary Session – Policy Makers and Industry Leaders: Prospering the Economy Together

High-level decision makers from the Selangor State government and top companies operating in Selangor discuss the strategies Selangor can adopt to attract investments that will strengthen the State’s mission to be ASEAN’s premier Smart State by 2025, as well as its strengths and the challenges it faces.

The panellists generally held positive views of Selangor as an investment destination, citing infrastructure, affordability, the ready availability of talent and good support from the government. Recommendations were also made to enhance road and transport conditions and to encourage greater talent development in order for the State to move up the value chain.

“The five key industries for Selangor are transport equipment, life sciences, electrical & electronics (E&E), food & beverages (F&B) manufacturing, and machinery and equipment. We have also set up councils to coordinate between industries and the government, and are preparing action plans for the aerospace, biotech and halal sectors, to drive growth in these areas.”

Datuk Teng Chang Khim, Selangor State Exco

“I have no doubt that Selangor will be able to achieve its objective of becoming a Smart State, because it is putting in the infrastructure and getting in the FDIs to do so. But apart from infrastructure, it is also important to produce local intellectual capital because smart cities need smart content. And local companies should be incentivised to do so.”

Tan Sri Shahril Shamsudin, Managing Director, Sapura Energy

“We could have located our regional back office centre anywhere in the world, but we chose Selangor because of the pool of highly-educated, talented and multilingual people. The Selangor government’s decision to set up industrial hubs is also commendable because it shows the State has focus.”

 – Stuart Milne, CEO, HSBC Malaysia

“Port Klang is the 12th largest port in the world, and the 5th largest outside of China. To move further up, we need to make sure that the speed and efficiency on the port-side is reflected by the land-side by improving transport and traffic conditions. And instead of competing with each other, the two operators should work together to share infrastructure and technology, and strengthen the port.”

 – Eddie Lee, CEO, Westports Malaysia

“Selangor ticked all the right boxes for us – space, scalability and attractive costs, as well as easy accessibility to our customers via KL International Airport and Port Klang. That is why we set up our regional e-fulfilment hub here.”

 – Rostin Javadi, COO, Zalora Group Malaysia

The three primary concerns of our employees here, where we have located our regional shared service centre, are traffic, transport and affordable housing. This has to be addressed because we are experiencing employee attrition as many of them are tired from the long commute.

 – Madeleine Roach, Head of Global Financial Services Asia Pacific, AstraZeneca

1st Breakaway Session themed “Smart Cities for Sustainable Living”

Leaders from the public and private sectors share their views on how Selangor can achieve its goal of becoming ASEAN’s premier Smart State by 2025 through the development of smart and sustainable cities. Representing various industries, the panellists gave insights from the ICT, engineering, energy, and urban development industries. They also touched on the importance of the public and private sectors working together, the need for a mental and cultural change by governments and of getting the buy-in of the people for the project.

“Smart Selangor envisions a State where the best of city services are integrated and made equitable and available to everyone across the State through Internet connectivity. To do so, we need funding, we need better collaboration between government and private sector, and we need to have the correct policy alignment.

 – Dr Fahmi Ngah, Managing Director, Smart Selangor Delivery Unit

It is important to focus on last mile communications as well as on enhancing the capabilities of industries to deal with the needs of Industry 4.0. Selangor should also focus on building competencies in ICT, as the lack of competence is one of the reasons why certain projects fail.

 – Anand Gopal Menon, Chief Technical Officer of Siemens Malaysia and
Siemens Head of Engineering in ASEAN

Governments must change their mind-sets on buying patterns. The public sector is too focused on price but that cannot be the approach when it comes to IT. That is why industries and government must work closely together, so the government can better understand the thoughts and processes of the private sector.

 – Datuk Sivanathan Shanmugam, Managing Director, Nokia Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Maldives

“A smart city must be sustainable. For example, in Singapore, coal-fire plants are being phased out and now 90 percent of their energy comes from natural gas. The government should pool together all the smart minds to develop a smart city that is suitable for the country.

 – Lim Chi Haur, Managing Director, BSL Eco Energy

The key to developing a smart city is to ensure that the solutions are localised, affordable and responsive to the real issues faced by the people. As such, obtaining the right data and information is vital. Also vital is communicating the aims to the people as the public buy-in and understanding is needed for any plan to succeed.

 – Norliza Hashim, CEO, Urbanice

2nd Breakaway Session – “Selangor as a Hub for Aerospace and Aviation”

As home to KL International Airport (KLIA) and Subang Skypark, as well as 200 aerospace and aviation companies, Selangor is at the centre of the Malaysia aerospace and aviation industry. Under the Selangor Aerospace Action Plan, the State aims to go one step further, and shift from being a national to a regional champion. The panellists emphasised on developing more skilled workers, developing infrastructure, and enhancing capabilities of local SMEs in the industry.

“The government is committed to enhancing the aerospace and aviation industry, and that is why we have set up three dedicated training centres. However, we need to bring about greater acceptance of technical and vocational education and training (TVET). Our message is that TVET brings about good employment opportunities. 94 percent of TVET graduates get instant jobs which pay well. No country can develop economically unless it has sufficient people trained in TVET.”

 – Tuan M. Kulasegaran, Minister of Human Resources

“Our facility in Selangor employs around 500 people, all of whom are Malaysians, and it is the only one outside of the United States that is capable of overhauling GE’s latest LEAP engines. This is made possible because we constantly make the effort to train locals and build up their capacities.”

 – Datuk Mark Rozario, CEO, General Electrics Malaysia.

“Moving up the value chain requires an integrated approach between government, industry and education, and all three need to work closely together. We strive to play our part in this by building local skills, including setting up a TVET institution.”

 – Ali Ahmad, Director of Group Business Development for Malaysia and Thailand, BAE Systems International

“We have been working closely with industry players to better understand their needs and wants, and the two main factors that they look for when setting up in Selangor are availability of talent and market access.”

 – Datuk Hasan Azhari, CEO, InvestSelangor

“Around 60 percent of our tenants at our aerospace parks in Subang and KLIA are foreign multinationals, and their presence and activities are helping to build up local capabilities. We take care of their needs by handling real estate, supply chain and distribution issues. However, there should be incentives specifically targeted at the aerospace sector, as there are none at the moment.”

 – Randhill Singh, General Manager of Land Development, Malaysia Airports

“There has to be acceptance that Malaysia is an aerospace nation and it should be a primary focus. Presently, aerospace in Malaysia is usually parked as a sub-sector under manufacturing and transport, whereas in countries like Germany and Japan, it is the focal point of policy as it is the driver of technology.”

 – Naguib Mohd Nor, CEO, Strand Aerospace


3rd Breakaway Session – “Selangor as a Hub for Future Technologies”

To be a Smart State, it is vital that Selangor opens its doors and welcome industries that will help enhance its strengths and move it closer to its goals. Chief among these is technology, which encompasses a wide area of disciplines including green technology, biotechnology, nanotechnology and information technology. Panellists revealed their thoughts how Selangor can move towards being a hub and hotbed for future technologies that will drive it forward.

“The important thing is not what sort of technology Selangor should focus on but whether it has the ecosystem and infrastructure to support it. Then, you need to look at what the technology does and how it impacts people. So technologies that enhance lives have good potential for growth.”

 – Prabu Balasubramanian, Executive Director, TransSys Solutions UAE

“The most important aspect in becoming a future technology hub is the culture. There is a general unwillingness in both the public and private sectors to take risks and therefore a mind-set change is needed. However, if we need to focus on a specific technology then it should be Industry 4.0 (I4.0). Selangor should seek to attract FDIs from MNCs in order to bring about transfer of technology to local players.”

 – Mohammad Hazani Hassan, Director of Technology Ventures, Malaysian Technology Development Corporation (MTDC).

“To become a tech hub, there should be a culture of celebrating failure because failure teaches valuable lessons that will lead to success. Also, you need to create a culture of innovation from a young age, such as in California where everyone wants to innovate something. It also important to make sure that the innovation is able to go to market in the shortest time.”

 – Kumar Subramaniam, Managing Director, UROS South Asia & Middle East

“Selangor has tremendous economic growth, and the pillars of technology will be Artificial Intelligence (AI), Blockchain and IoT, with the financial sector, government and manufacturing leading the way in their adoption. The last one is of particular importance with the advent of I4.0”

 – Catherine Lian, Managing Director, IBM Malaysia

“It is notoriously difficult to predict future technologies as innovations that may seem frivolous today could become necessities in the future. However, you need the right minds. And that means investing in students who are curious and want to innovate, and not simply want marks.”

 – Prof Richard Jackman, Principal Investigator, London Centre for Nanotechnology