KOTA KINABALU: Due to the lack of appreciation for talent and innovation, staff from the Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry (MOSTI) have turned away people like Phua Khein-Seng, the Malaysian who created the pendrive as well as the GrabTaxi innovator, who was also a Malaysian.
But not anymore, promised its minister, Datuk Madius Tangau during the International Conference on Information Systems and Technology held at the Magellan Sutera Harbour Resort yesterday.
“We now have a dedicated section that deals with talents and innovation. It has been established just a month ago and the staff are getting used to working there,” he said.
“Now, every innovation that comes to our door, we will not allow them to get away,” he said.
He was determined to ensure officers in his ministry knew exactly what to do when talents knocked on their door so that the country will no longer lose inventions like the pendrive and innovators to other countries.
“We are at the dawn of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. This revolution leverages on the pervasive power of digitisation and ICT,” he reminded.
He said that we need to realise that the prosperity of any nation in the 21st century was decided by the nation’s capacity to innovate.
“Innovation will have a larger impact on the people and on the nation’s economy at a pace and on a scale that are unprecedented,” he added.
He added that along with many other countries, Malaysia has long acknowledged that science, technology and innovation (STI) was the most important driver of sustainable growth including improving living standards.
“If we look at most of the developed countries such as Japan, the United States of America and South Korea, you will notice a nation powered through STI. We must realise that STI is the driver of the new economy, it spurs the creation of new businesses, new jobs and drives productivity growth.
“In the case of Malaysia, the answer will be that we need to develop a National STI Masterplan that would serve as an overarching Strategic Plan for STI in the nation over the long term beyond 2020,” he said.
Madius also stressed the need for the formulation of a National STI Masterplan to support the implementation of all policies related to STI which was decided at the inaugural National Science Council meeting.
The master plan would be essential to ensure Malaysia leverages on STI opportunities to achieve sustainable economic growth. Such an STI Masterplan would articulate the vision, targets, policy measures, mechanisms and synergistic action plans across all ministries and sectors to advance STI in Malaysia, he said.
“Having an STI Masterplan is like having a blueprint to develop a well-planned, integrated smart city comprising smart homes, state-of-the-art transportation network, commercial enterprises, facilities such as schools, hospitals, sustainable water supply, digital infrastructure and others,” he said.
Therefore, it is timely to consider developing a National STI Masterplan to chart Malaysia’s competitiveness in the future through STI, he added.
He went on that his ministry was mandated to lead the National Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) agenda, in achieving our desired future and that he was determined to ensure that the STI Masterplan was developed in a coherent manner and for the long term.
Additionally, he also said that we need to realise that in shaping a Malaysia of tomorrow, we should no longer confine ourselves to the old mould of thinking.
“We need to find ways to avoid silo approaches and leverage on our available resources to achieve the end game,” he said.
And by understanding this predicament, the Malaysia government has established a centralized body to manage Malaysia’s research and development (R&D) fund under his ministry.
The centralised body is known as the Research Management Agency (RMA) and through it, the ministry will be able to streamline the management of R&D funding in Malaysia as well as ease the coordination of the whole R&D value chain and be able to measure the deliverables in accordance with the national STI agenda, he explained.
He added that the RMA will harmonise, consolidate, and focus all of the nation’s R&D related initiatives in consonance with the national aspiration to become a high income, developed nation with an innovation-led economy.
In his speech, Madius also mentioned that by next year, the government will be introducing coding which will be officially added to the syllabuses of national schools.
“Computer coding will not only be taught as part of a computer science subject, but will also be incorporated into the pedagogy of teaching, especially in science and maths classes to ensure our students are equipped with the much needed computational thinking skills,” he said.
He added that his ministry will be working with the Ministry of Higher Education (MOHE) and Ministry of Education (MOE) to design a National STEM Action Plan to develop the much needed STEM talent today for the future of tomorrow.
“It is my vehement hope that quality STEM expertise and an innovative culture combined with the readiness of industries to embrace moving towards a knowledge intensive economy would create the demand for STEM which eventually will attract or increase the number of students taking STEM subjects,” he said.