KUALA LUMPUR, July 10, 2012 – The Academy of Sciences Malaysia (ASM) hosted over 200 participants at an international conference, ASMIC2012 to discuss the strategic roles of Science & Technology in the country’s socio-economic transformation agenda. The Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Datuk Seri Panglima Dr. Maximus Johnity Ongkili, in his opening speech, reiterated the need to judiciously invest in S&T if the nation is to realize the targets of becoming a high income economy by 20202. He said, “The role of science and technology is vital in ensuring an innovation ecosystem that benefits the nation’s economic and social development. Fluency in STI is crucial in the knowledge-intensive and innovation-driven economy”.
Malaysia has been making encouraging progress in sprucing up the country’s innovation achievements. A number of flagship global surveys on innovation have confirmed this. “Our 22nd position in the 2009 Global Innovation Index published by Boston Consulting Group and partners is testimony to the growing international confidence with Malaysia’s innovation system. But we should never be complacent. We should continue to strive to better the ecosystem so that we can move further up the ladder of global competitiveness” echoed the Minister. The 2011 Global Innovation Index published by INSEAD ranks Malaysia on the 31st position, top amongst upper middle income countries.
There is however room for Malaysia to learn from innovation strategies in the high income economies. ASMIC 2012 brings together illustrious speakers and, distinguished expert from various economies that have achieved success thanks to their strategic investment in S&T. in the region countries including South Korea and Taiwan have achieved exemplary success through their wise investment in S&T. The Minister reminded that “Looking at the key success factors, we still have a lot of catching up to do. Our comparison suggests that Malaysia’s R&D intensity is well below that of the average ratio of 2.3% recorded by Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries. The number of researchers per 10,000 labor forces is well below the OECD countries’ average of around 61 researchers per 10,000 labor forces.
“Change is not an option but imperative. We must change or risk being left behind. We succeeded in transforming Malaysia from an agricultural economy to an industrial one, emerging as one of the leading exporters in the world. Therefore, the challenge now is to make a quantum leap to the next stage of becoming a high income country. I have absolutely no doubt that this is possible with careful planning, clear strategies and firm execution” explained the Minister. The Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation or MOSTI will roll-out a new legislation (Science Act) to provide the legal framework for the advancement of STI for Malaysia. This is to complement our already strong emphasis on the innovation ecosystems. “Legislation is important if we are to maintain consistent support for STI. Without the proper legal framework, the directions for STI can change much too often. This can be disconcerting and unproductive. This is because STI has to be looked at as a long term investment if we are to truly reap the returns”. Without such investments, high income may improve unattainable.