Malaysia’s Government Lays Out Five-Year Strategic Plan for Esports Development

Mentioned in this article

  • The Ministry of Youth and Sports in Malaysia has outlined a five-year domestic plan to grow esports within the Southeast Asian country.
  • Malaysia’s Ministry of Finance has budgeted a further RM 20M ($4.8M USD) for esports in 2020.
  • The government outlined five strategic priorities for esports, including athlete welfare, competitive integrity, a national esports venue, and a certification program. 

Malaysia’s Ministry of Youth and Sports has released a 144-page comprehensive strategy to legislate and create a sustainable esports ecosystem. The five-year plan presents 25 key initiatives within five prioritized strategies “aimed to maintain the continuance of esports excellence in Malaysia.”

In 2019, Malaysia’s government announced it would allocate RM 10M ($2.4M) to start the development of esports domestically. Initial details on how this funding would be allocated were scarce, and in an article from Malaymail, the country’s minister for youth and sport Sayed Saddiq said the ministry only received the budget in October—too late to help fund Malaysia’s Overwatch World Cup team’s journey to Blizzcon. The budget allocation for 2020 will double to $4.8M for 2020.

Currently, there are no dedicated laws to govern esports in Malaysia; instead, competitive gaming is still grouped under the government’s Sports Development Act of 1997. The report directly references South Korea’s Act of Promotion of Esports, which paved the way for government subsidies, university programs, and competition administration in what is still one of the largest esports markets worldwide, alongside China and the U.S.

Malaysia’s own strategic plan for esports outlines five priorities. Summarized, these include: 

  1. Standardizing esports athlete contracts, health programs, and career planning.
  2. Safeguarding competitive integrity and improving gender equality. 
  3. Building a national venue and academy for esports. 
  4. Encouraging further esports talent development, and investment.
  5. Introduce licenses for players, referees, and training centers.

The launch of the Esports Development Strategic Plan was officiated by YB Syed Saddiq Bin Syed Abdul Rahman, Minister of Youth and Sports Malaysia, on Nov. 21, 2019. Elected in 2018, at age 27, Saddiq is the country’s youngest federal minister (since it gained independence in 1957) and is known for his interest in gaming.

According to its Internet Users Survey 2018, Malaysia, a country with a population of over 31M, has seen the estimated number of internet users grow from 20.1M in 2014 to 28.7M, roughly a 42% increase.

Kevin Hitt contributed to this article.


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