Allocation doubled to boost R & D: Max
The Government is committed to build up the country’s competency in R & D, science and innovation, said Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation Datuk Dr Maximus J. Ongkili. “We will be unable to achieve vision 2020 without acquiring significant capabilities in science and technology,” he said, adding that the public sector budget allocated for R & D activities is RM3.9 billion, twice the amount that was allocated under the Eighth Malaysia Plan. The Government aims to eventually spend 1.5 per cent of GDP on R&D by 2010. “We would encourage research as the basis for developing and deepening knowledge,” he said when addressing the participants at opening of the fourth International Conference on X-ray and related techniques in research and industries, organized by Universiti Malaysia Sabah here yesterday. “In order to ensure that the expenditure on R & D is maximized, we would prioritize and focus on specific R & D efforts and pursue the commercialization and the science, and techno-fund would play an important role in achieving these aims,” he said. Maximus said the Ninth Malaysia Plan (9MP) will also focus on producing more researchers, scientists and engineers (RSE). “We are targeting to have 50 RSEs for every 10,000 members of the labour force by 2010 and to achieve it, we have created a RM500 million S & T Human Resource Development Programme. The Government has initiated the ‘Brain Gain Programme’ directed at involving or attracting outstanding researchers, scientists and engineers including Malaysians abroad, he added. Maximus noted that significant advancements have been achieved in the field of x-ray, which is widely used in many applications, including medical imaging and therapy, homeland security and industrial inspection. Maximus said Malaysia has transformed from an agro-based economy to one that is manufacturing and export- oriented. However, he said, like other developing nations, Malaysia is still grappling with socio-economic issues, including those related to the environment, health care and job creation. “We believe that the main solutions to these issues hinge on the speed of science, technology and innovations applied across segments of societies and economic sectors,” he said. Asked about the coal-fired power plant issue and the insistence of Tenaga Nasional Berhad to have it set up in Sabah’s east coast, Maximus said, “I know the disadvantages of the coal power plant and I am aware of global warming. Of course, there are pros and cons, and we must ensure that it would definitely not affect the environment. The issue, he said, would only be resolved when the State Government comes up with a decision. To the question if the State Government and UMS should work together towards arriving at a sound decision, he said, “Yes, we are cooperating. “Certainly, we are concerned about energy for power supply. In fact, we are talking about the waste energy for fuel, that could be a priority, besides other alternatives. “How to deal with the global warming is a big study and science has to look up alternatives to decrease the global warming,” he added. Earlier, Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) Vice Chancellor, Prof Datuk Dr Mohd Noh Dalimin said the university has, under the IDB fundings, purchased the 5CRD and XRF x-ray fluorescence spectrometer for research purposes. “The XRD and XRF have many applications, including for most basic science and engineering, geology, archeology, pharmaceutical and in material science and crystallography. “The tools are considered among the most important assets in School of Science and Technology and UMS,” he said. According to him, globalisation and the advent of new technologies and knowledge has made it necessary for countries to some extent, to depend on one another for progress and development. At the same time, he pointed out, new challenges, beyond the capacity of any one country to address individually have emerged. “This leads to a greater need for international cooperation and this conference is one of the platforms on which such cooperation can be achieved,” he said. Mohd Noh also encouraged local participants to interact with the experts and specialist in the various sessions to upgrade their knowledge and solutions to improve on their manufacturing or research technology and processes.