Malaysia turns to China on first foray into robotics

Ahmad Fairuz Othman

SHANGHAI: Malaysia’s first foray into robotics technology is currently in the offing with help from Chinese expertise.

A Johor government subsidiary, Johor Corporation and the Malaysian Investment Development Authority (Mida) have expressed interest in tapping into Chinese experience in robotics.

This will hopefully lead to the development of a robotics hub, which is being planned to be built in Johor Baru.

Johor Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin, who is also JCorp chairman, is leading a high-profile trade mission to hold talks with a Chinese company involved in robotics technology during his official visit to Shanghai, China, beginning tomorrow until Sunday.

Johor Corporation president and chief executive Datuk Kamaruzzaman Abu Kassim, who is part of the Johor trade mission said talks have been on-going between the state government, JCorp and Mida to bring in Chinese robotics technology to Malaysian shores.

“It will be the first (in Malaysia). We are surveying to bring this industry, which is based on robotics. This is being done in the context of (Malaysia’s) Industrial 4.0 Transformation, a concept, which is also being talked about in developed countries.

“Surely, this will spur a shift in the influx of competitively advanced activities that are based on technology,” said Kamaruzzaman ahead of Khaled’s official visit to Shanghai.

It is learnt that the robotics industry is an important strategic industry to promote Malaysia’s push towards an economic transformation and development of intelligent manufacturing.

Robotics formed part of a national strategy to utilise robotics as a tool for industries as part of the Industrial 4.0 Transformation, which will help upgrade enterprises in the region without adding other production factors, among other things.

The proposal for the robotics hub in Johor, tentatively called Robotics Future City, will include the Chinese company’s regional base, robotic equipment and components and parts production base, a service centre for robot industries and a research and development centre.

The robotics hub will be built in the west of Johor Baru covering a 4 sq km area.

Others accompanying Khaled on his trade mission are Chief Secretary to the Government Tan Sri Dr Ali Hamsa who is JCorp deputy chairman, Mida chief executive officer Datuk Azman Mahmud and JCorp president and chief executive Datuk Kamaruzzaman Abu Kassim, and Johor state secretary Datuk Azmi Rohani.

Kamaruzzaman said the other main agenda in the trade mission to Shanghai was a round table meeting with more than 20 Chinese captains of industry, who will be setting up their bases in Johor as their gateway into the Asean market.

The trade mission will also firm up an agreement for Chinese textile manufacturing giant D&Y to expand its existing operations in Sedenak, Johor.

Kamaruzzaman said Mida and JCorp would visit the site of and hold talks with a top Chinese waste management company CEI Wujiang to explore the development of a waste-to-energy facility.

“A Memorandum of Understanding will be signed with China’s number one company in terms of waste management.

“We are confident that their expertise can help bring a solution to Malaysia’s waste management issue.

“As a state conglomerate, we will continue to attract investors to choose Johor with Mida. In this effort, we choose sectors that are promoted by the government to obtain big impact for the country’s economy, either to boost the country’s exports or to provide job and various business opportunities in Malaysia,” he said.

Last year, Johor brought in RM26.4 billion worth of investments, which created 8,587 jobs.

Out of the RM26.4 billion in investments, RM695.7 million of it came from Chinese companies with potential employment for 985 people.