KUALA LUMPUR, June 20 — Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said he was left impressed with Alibaba founder and chief executive officer Jack Ma’s deep knowledge of information technology (IT).
In an interview with Alibaba Group-owned newspaper South China Morning Post, Dr Mahathir complimented the business tycoon for developing concepts that were “ahead of the times”.
“Ma understands IT more than anybody else who has spoken to me. He sees a lot of ideas, a lot of new industries, based on his new technology, IT and computing.
“He talks a lot about cloud computing, for example, which is something that we still do not fully understand. So his ideas are ahead of the times when compared to many other people’s,” he told the Hong Kong news agency.
Dr Mahathir said he is considering Ma’s suggestion to exchange views with and learn from China, especially in regards to its zero-corruption stance and the concept of a cashless society, among others.
“Ma has a good word to say about President Xi Jinping and he thinks that it will be useful for me to visit China, and I will do that.
“I think what he is doing in his own city, is something that people must see...I must see, because I think I can learn a lot from him,” he reportedly said.
The duo met for an hour at Dr Mahathir’s Putrajaya office on Monday.
It is believed they discussed the future of the Digital Free Trade Zone (DFTZ) in Sepang, Selangor, among others.
The project, mooted by the previous Barisan Nasional government led by former PM Datuk Seri Najib Razak, was to be the logistics centre for Alibaba in South-east Asia.
Ma, who was in Kuala Lumpur to open an Alibaba office in Bangsar South, had also expressed admiration over Dr Mahathir’s understanding of technology.
He had since said that his giant global e-commerce platform was inspired by Malaysia’s Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC).