The Future of E-commerce in Malaysia

by Gladys MIRANDAH of Patrick Mirandah Co., MalaysiaE-commerce has developed over the years from electronic funds transfers (EFT) comprising of online shopping and Internet banking to electronic data interchange (EDI) comprising of transfer of documents such as purchase orders or invoices between companies. Recent studies foresee an massive growth of e-commerce in the Asian region especially in Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Korea and Australia, possibly challenging Europe and United States following the fact that India announced a target of US$50 billion export software sales by 2008, and China launching forcefully into mobile Internet access.E-commerce has its numerous advantages for instance it overcomes geographical limitations to allow market expansion, decreases administrative, marketing and logistics costs hence increases efficiency and provides a competitive environment to improve quality of service. However, there are some concerns that need to be addressed, particularly, privacy issues, legal issues such as copyright infringement, protection of patent rights, domain name disputes and preservation of trade secrets as well as issues pertaining to the validity and enforcement of agreements made online.Governments and regulatory bodies throughout Asia have started to recognize the growth prospects of e-commerce and policies have been designed to include attempts to amend the existing laws to deal with the emerging legal issues. Hence, to attract new online business opportunities and increase the competency of e-commerce in the Asian region, it is important for international businessmen and their legal advisors to be familiar with the e-commerce laws, policies and regulations throughout Asia.To date, the legislations that have been conceded in Asia include Australia’s Electronic Transactions Act 1999, Broadcasting Services Amendment (On-Line Services) Act 1999, Privacy (Private Sector) Bill and the Copyright Amendment (Digital Agenda) Bill 1999; South Korea’s Electronic Transaction Basic Act; Singapore’s Electronic Transaction Act 1998; Hong Kong Electronic Transactions Ordinance 2000; Japan’s Draft Bill Concerning Electronic Signatures and Certification Authorities and the Law Partially Amending the Trade Mark Law; the Philippines’ Electronic Commerce Act; and India’s Information Technology Act 2000.Malaysia was one of the pioneers amongst Asian countries to establish a new federal ministry, Ministry of Energy, Communications and Multimedia. The main function of this Ministry is to spearhead and promote Information and communication technology (ICT) growth with the support of several agencies including the Malaysian Institute of Microelectronic Systems (MIMOS) established in 1984, Multimedia Development Corporation (MDC) established in 1996 and Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (or MCMC) established in 1998.These agencies individually contribute; for instance, the Multimedia Development Corporation has been working on a National Electronic Commerce Masterplan designed to create an encouraging environment to facilitate the growth of e-commerce in Malaysia. The four key elements in this Masterplan are to boost confidence in on-line trading, prepare a regulatory framework, build a critical mass of Internet users and introduce an electronic payment system.Amongst the legislations that have been passed in Malaysia are Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission Act 1998, Communications and Multimedia Act 1998, Digital Signature Act 1997, Computer Crimes Act 1997 and Telemedicine Act 1997. These legislations have been amended over the years in attempts to better address emerging e-commerce issues.In lieu with the importance of e-commerce, the Malaysian Government has allocated RM 12.9 billion for the Ninth Malaysia Plan (2006-2010). On a broader perspective, Malaysia is participating in Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation’s (APEC) to contribute in the efforts of introducing e-commerce laws, policies and regulations to facilitate e-commerce transactions internationally.The future of e-commerce in Malaysia and the Asia region is bright. Governments and regulatory bodies are collaborating on a wider platform to ensure e-commerce law, policy and regulations are enforced to provide a guideline for traders to systematically utilize e-commerce and in tandem ensure protection for e-commerce users.Ref URL 1: http://www.meti.go.jp/english/information/data/cEC304Ise.html
Ref URL 2: http://www.unescap.org/tid/gateway/tisgway_ecom.pdf
Author: Gladys MIRANDAH
Firm: patrick mirandah co. (malaysia)
Ref Email: gladys@mirandah.com; malaysia@mirandah.com

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