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Talent Leakages Amid Malaysia’s Plans for Web3 IP Export

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”Malaysians, stop selling yourselves short!” declared Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation’s (MDEC) CEO, Ts. Mahadhir Aziz.

This comes from Malaysia Digital Week (MDW) 2022 – an initiative by MDEC to attract foreign investments into the nation through exports of tech IPs from the digital creative content sector. At his panel, Aziz said that the role for web3 tech is to introduce highly ambitious projects within the nation to catalyse the economy through government intervention (MDEC loves their buzzwords).

The IPs for exports here are for the spaces of AR, VR and XR, with the goal for these projects to increase web3 adoption by creating new jobs in the sector. He further adds that Malaysia needs the help of securing foreign capital and global experience in order to turn the country into a digital hub for Southeast Asia.

Alongside this panel was Didcot's Ed Vaizey, who was previously UK Culture and Digital Minister. At a press conference, Vaizey said that before the UK would even consider investing into a country, Malaysia has to create a favourable tax environment for foreign investments. Representing UK foreign investments, he proclaimed that he sees Malaysia and the rest of ASEAN as ambitious nations and their respective tax structures will set themselves apart. In typical British fashion, he looked at his watch politely after 25 minutes, dismissed further questions from all journalists and left the room, proclaiming that he is hungry and “it is lunchtime.”

The next question that lingered on this Blockhead’s noggin was even if Malaysia did receive investments, would the ecosystem be able to sustain the growth in a competitive arena that is web3?

A panel of Web3 industry leaders shared that the infrastructural issues lie primarily in both talent creation and retention. Effendy Zulkifly from Crypto Valley Malaysia, noted that the key problems for HR lies in the supply of talent.

The supply side issue was said to stem from local universities not interested in supporting web3 talent creation. Inevitably, this leads to a brain drain of talent as international competitors are willing to pay more than four times the current salary.

MDW also saw the reveal of their digital nomad visa, DE Rantau, as an attempt to boost digital adoption and attract foreign talent within the IT sector, including blockchain. However, only time will tell if MDEC’s DE Rantau digital nomad visa can be the bandaid or the silver bullet into turning Malaysia into a more competitive blockchain location and to move beyond the industries of gaming and digital content creation.