Alibaba Group founder Jack Ma met Malaysia’s Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad at the latter’s office in Putrajaya on Monday (Jun 18). Bernama uploaded a video of the meeting to its Twitter page on Monday morning, showing Mr Ma shaking hands with Dr Mahathir, before introducing him to the rest of the delegation.

The Chinese tycoon is said to have been keen to meet Dr Mahathir since his return as prime minister after taking down the UMNO government in a historic general election. After the meeting, Mr Ma told Bernama he was “surprised by (Dr Mahathir’s) knowledge about technology”.

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He said that during the one-hour meeting, they shared a lot of ideas and discussed how to lift more Malaysians out of poverty and support more young people and small businesses. “It was a very good meeting,” said Mr Ma, who is in Kuala Lumpur to open an Alibaba office in Bangsar South.

Later on Twitter, Dr Mahathir put up photos of the meeting and said the two had a “good exchange of ideas on a wide range of subjects”. Ma had reportedly met with Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng over an informal dinner on Sunday night.

The world’s first Digital Free Trade Zone

According to media reports, Ma is said to have wanted to meet Dr Mahathir earlier this month but the proposed meeting had to be postponed because Dr Mahathir wanted to focus on putting together his new Pakatan Harapan government. The previous Barisan Nasional (BN) government had appointed Ma as the government’s digital economy advisor.

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Ma’s meeting with Dr Mahathir comes in the wake of the new government’s pledge to review several Beijing-backed projects initiated by the BN government as it looks more towards Japan for economic cooperation. Ma was in Kuala Lumpur last year to launch the world’s first Digital Free Trade Zone (DFTZ) designed to promote the growth of e-commerce by providing a state-of-the-art platform for SMEs and enterprises to conduct their businesses and services. Dr Mahathir has been reported as having said that the DFTZ project would go on.


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