Cyberjaya, 27 February – The Malaysia Technology Strategic Outlook (MTSO) was launched today- a biennial publication that aims to inform and promote awareness on the latest development as well as challenges that are shaping the local and global high technology landscapes.
The launching was performed by Minister in Prime Minister’s Department, who is also the minister in charge of Malaysian Industry-Government Group for High Technology (MIGHT), Dato’ Sri Hajah Nancy Shukri, accompanied by the Science Advisor to the Prime Minister and Joint-Chair (Government) of MIGHT, Professor Tan Sri Zakri Abdul Hamid, Joint-Chair (Industry) of MIGHT, Tan Sri Datuk Dr. Ahmad Tajuddin Ali and President and Chief Executive Officer of MIGHT, Datuk Dr Mohd Yusoff Sulaiman.
MTSO is an initiative undertaken by MIGHT, an agency under the Prime Minister’s Office that serves to advance the nation’s competency in high technology towards sustainable development through public-private partnerships.
Industry 4.0 set the scene for this edition of MTSO. With that theme, descriptions of the technologies and platform involved including assessments on technological readiness in the face of rapid changes in high technology were presented. Also included are selected success stories of local and international companies in adopting these technologies, followed by government initiatives addressing these challenges whilst supporting progress.
The overview and in-depth analysis of various topics enable readers of the publication to relate to the current science and technology environment that is progressively transforming human lives around the globe, while serving as a guideline from whence the affected segments of society could chart their future; be it in policy, business or livelihood as a whole.
MTSO contributed as part of input to the Ministry of International Trade and Industry’s National Industry 4.0 Blueprint, complementing the efforts made my the ministry in preparing the local industry with the advent of Industry 4.0
The event took place at MIGHT’s new office, MIGHT Partnership Hub, as the agency also took that opportunity to celebrate its 25 years anniversary with the guests.
SOME exciting news about our local aerospace industry was shared this month at the Singapore Airshow 2018.
International Trade and Industry Ministry deputy secretary general Datin K. Talagavathi revealed a forecast that Malaysia’s aerospace sector this year would rake in RM1 billion in new investments and generate about RM12.7 billion in revenue, reflecting the upward trend in our manufacturing of aviation-related electronics, aircraft frames and aircraft engine components.
Congratulations are due to the key roles the ministry and many others have played in this development.
Through its National Aerospace Industry Coordinating Office, for example, the ministry has been actively promoting world class industrial aerospace parks, such as the KLIA Aeropolis, Subang Aerotech Park, UMW HighValue Manufacturing Park in Serendah, Selangor, and Senai Airport Aviation Park in Johor Baru to potential investors.
“We are optimistic the aerospace industry will continue to be vibrant and thrive in years to come, given that the Asia Pacific is expected to have the highest growth in new aircraft delivery for the next decade,” Talagavathi said.
Indeed, Airbus foresees the delivery of 35,000 new aircraft, of which 41 per cent are bound for the Asia Pacific, while Boeing targets 41,000 new aircraft, with 39 per cent heading for Asia.
There is clearly a huge demand for aviation services in the Asia Pacific.
In our region to date, the industry has produced more than 200 companies and employed more than 21,000skilled workers, with the creation of another 1,000 jobs this year anticipated.
Major local companies include CTRM Aero Composite, the sole manufacturer and supplier of engine covers (known as fan cowls) for the Airbus A350; SME Aerospace, which offers comprehensive metal fabrication, machining, treatments and assembly of aerospace parts and components; and UMW Aerospace, which makes fan cases for the Rolls-RoyceTrent 1000 engine, further positioning Malaysia as a trusted producer of aero engine parts.
The list of multinational companies that have recently established or expanded their operations in Malaysia includes Airbus Group, Spirit AeroSystems,
Safran Landing Systems, Honeywell Aerospace Avionics, Singapore Aerospace Manufacturing, GE Aviation and UTC Aerospace Systems.
Talagavathi said the ministry, through its agencies, would continue to develop local small- and medium-sized enterprises to be part of the aerospace global supply chain.
“(The ministry) targets to increase the gross national income to RM454 million by 2020 and create 4,100 job openings by 2020.”
The heady news about the aerospace industry does not arise as an afterthought.
It is a calculated move initiated by the Malaysian Investment Development Authority 20 years ago.
It began with the launch of the First Malaysia Aerospace Industry Blueprint in 1997, followed by the formation of the Malaysian Aerospace Council in 2001.
A Second Malaysia Aerospace Industry Blueprint, launched in 2015 and better known as Blueprint 2030, firmly placed the aerospace sector as an important component of the Economic Transformation Programme introduced by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
In developing both plans, the ministry relied substantially on the expertise provided by the Malaysian Industry-Government Group on High Technology (MIGHT).
Blueprint 2030 aims to capture five per cent of the global maintenance-repair-overhaul market share, while striving to make Malaysia the number one manufacturer of parts and components in Southeast Asia.
Given the above, it is incumbent on Malaysia to build and strengthen its human capacity in the aerospace sector.
It is in this context that the Aerospace Malaysia Innovation Centre (AMIC) was formed in 2011 to foster Malaysian aerospace industry competitiveness.
The core business of AMIC is to undertake research and technology projects in collaboration with our industry and universities.
Jointly funded by the government and industry, AMIC is spearheaded by Airbus Group, Rolls-Royce, CTRM, Mara and MIGHT.
A significant feature of AMIC is that the research and development, conducted by a university consortium, will encourage local industry’s participation and base priorities on industry needs.
AMIC will train local talent with aerospace technology courses at the Master’s and PhD levels.
Last year, AMIC achieved a major milestone with its first collaborative project results, delivering for Rolls-Royce what are called “scalable fixtures”, adaptable to variety of fan blade types.
The project, which falls under AMIC’s “Factory of the Future” research, was earmarked for rapid development and began with two key objectives: to improve aircraft fixtures and to develop Malaysia’s capabilities in developing innovative aerospace design and fixtures. It has found success in both goals.
AMIC manifests the aspiration of Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh and the concept of “commonalities and collegiality” — a framework of collaboration and sharing facilities among academic and private sector researchers to improve our economic position by creating and producing products for the world.
When it comes to our place in the world aerospace industry, all Malaysians can proudly share widely-held and well-justified hopes for sky-high results.
Tan Sri Dr Zakri Abdul Hamid is science adviser to the prime minister and joint chairman of the Malaysian Industry-Government Group for High Technology. News Straits Times.
Retrieved from https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/columnists/2018/02/339099/aerospace-industry-soars
GLOBALLY, 800 million out of 7.6 billion people suffer from hunger. Although the number has decreased in recent decades, roughly one in 10 people goes to bed hungry every day, many of them from developing countries.
In a tragic irony, an estimated 30 to 40 per cent of food in developed countries is lost to waste. Malaysia, a prosperous developing country itself, is not spared of this notoriety. We are touted as the most obese country in Southeast Asia. The food left-over during Ramadan every year is evidence enough of our indulgence.
Food security is a concern in Malaysia as it is everywhere. Indeed, it ranks among the world’s greatest challenges. It is ranked second among the 17 Sustainable Development Goals in the United Nations 2030 Development Agenda which proclaims, “End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture”.
By 2050, the world population is expected to reach 9.2 billion — meaning an additional 1.6 billion people to feed, 200 million people more than today’s population of China. To ensure food availability for everyone in 2050, the world needs to increase food production by 70 per cent. Faced with dwindling agricultural land, less water for irrigation, rising energy and labour costs, and major grain crops already reaching yield plateau, it will be a daunting task.
Under the Transformasi Nasional 2050 agenda championed by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, economic planners and policymakers have deliberated in great depth a wide range of issues and concerns about our food security status.
Further discussions should be welcome and continue unabated to address all issues and concerns comprehensively.
Last November, Malaysia’s National Professors Council and Indonesia’s Association of Professors convened more than 250 participants in “Forum Pertanian IPIMA 2017” (IPIMA Agriculture Forum 2017) to discuss imminent challenges and collaboration in agriculture, which also highlighted the bilateral food security issues.
Equally commendable, Universiti Putra Malaysia Alumni Association, under the able leadership of Perlis royal Datuk Seri DiRaja Syed Razlan Syed Putra Jamalulaill, organised a seminar on Agriculture and Food Security 2050 last month, engaging distinguished agricultural practitioners, both active and retired, to reflect on our future food security.
Will Malaysia prevail to meet these challenges by 2050? By then, it is expected that Malaysia will have added 9.7 million to its present population of 31 million. In 2015, food import bills hit RM45.4 billion, while exports were RM27 billion, giving a deficit of over RM18 billion. If such a trend persists, Malaysia is likely to face a food crisis in the future.
We may be able to grow or produce food locally at high self-sufficiency levels, but that does not mean the country has attained the desired food security status.
Food security is defined by the Food and Agriculture Organisation as “when all people at all times have physical, social and economic access to sufficient safe and nutritious food preferences for an active and healthy life”.
In 2013, the International Conference on Food Security deemed food security as a multifaceted issue with four dimensions: availability, access, utilisation and stability. This led to the establishment of the Global Food Security Index (GFSI).
The GFSI informs food systems around the world with a common framework for understanding the root causes and risks of food insecurity, at the core of which are affordability, availability, quality and safety.
Thus, GFSI provides a measure of food security at country level, as influenced by culture, environment and geographic location.
Last year, Malaysia ranked 41st with a GFSI score of 66.2, while Singapore was 4th with 84. Thailand, the Philippines and Myanmar ranked 55th, 79th, and 80th, with scores of 58.5, 47.3 and 44.8, respectively.
About 60 per cent of 113 countries experienced declines in food security scores last year compared with 2016. Malaysia declined by 3.2 points, followed by Philippines, Myanmar, Thailand, and Singapore by 1.0, 0.7, 0.7 and 0.6, respectively.
When natural resources and resilience are factored into the GFSI, Singapore drops 15 ranks, from 4th to 19th (49.2) because of the dependence on food imports and its susceptibility to environment-related events.
However, Malaysia drops only two spots in rank (52.1), largely due to lower dependency on food imports.
Universiti Putra Malaysia Adjunct Professor Dr Heong Kong Luen carried out an analysis of countries with high and low GFSI scores, and pointed out major issues that drag down Malaysia’s and other Asean countries’ scores seem to be related to quality and safety.
The quality and safety index for Malaysia is 71.1, compared with scores of France, Australia, and Singapore of 88.7, 86.4, and 78.3, respectively. Thailand, Philippines, Indonesia and Laos record much lower scores of 56.8, 54.0, 44.1 and 31.0, respectively.
One concern Malaysia and some Asean countries may immediately address is the overuse and misuse of pesticides.
Studies in Indonesia and Vietnam find that heavy use of pesticides in rice production did not translate into yield increases.
It is timely to review our approach to sustainable agriculture using science and modern technologies in addition to taking into account the role of traditional knowledge.
Also, we need to learn and apply valuable lessons from many case studies worldwide of successful efforts to stem and reverse land degradation and biodiversity loss, the subject of major reports to be launched next month by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services.
A more environment-friendly agriculture landscape would enhance Malaysia’s score on the global food security index.
The writer is science adviser to the prime minister and chairman,
National Professors Council
News Straits Times.
Retrieved from https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/columnists/2018/02/336821/sustainability-2050-food-challenge
The 7th edition of World CSR Day place in Mumbai 17-18 Feb which has partners from various industries, NGOs and the media. The theme it carried this time was Purposeful Purpose and related to a number of SDGs including sustainable cities. One of the programmes at this 2-day event was an award session to recognise 50 most Impactful Smart Cities Leaders. Pleased to announce that one of the recipients is MIGHT Vice President, Datuk Nik Ahmad Faizul. Congratulations!
IT was one of those tragic news moments forever remembered — I was at a conference in Hawaii on Dec 8, 1980 when a bulletin came in from New York that John Lennon had died, shot at the entrance to his Manhattan apartment building.
TIME magazine’s headline said it all: “When the Music Died.” Like many ardent Beatles’ fans, I was dumbfounded and left with a profound sense of loss.
It was déjà vu all over again to be similarly shocked beyond words in recent days by the loss of two long-time friends and colleagues.
Most recent was the death of Fidel Castro’s eldest son, Fidel “Fidelito” Castro Diaz-Balart on Feb 1. Reports said he had killed himself, after suffering from depression in his last few months.
Fidelito, 68, a father of three, was scientific adviser to the Cuban government and vice-president of Cuba’s Academy of Sciences.
He studied in Cuba and Russia (where he received two degrees, including a doctorate in physics, and was fluent in English, Russian, French and Spanish), and was considered an expert in nuclear energy, nanotechnology and the biopharmaceutical industry. He regularly attended global scientific conferences and was involved in the creation of a new nanotechnology research and development centre in Cuba, which became part of an extensive global network. In Kazakhstan just last year, he was promoting renewable energy and Cuba’s innovative technologies.
The internationally-recognised excellence of his and Cuba’s scientific achievements, especially in the field of medical science, is all the more remarkable given the decades-long animosity between Washington and Havana that inhibited collaboration between Cuban scientists and their US colleagues so near.
Three weeks earlier, Kenyan-born Harvard professor Calestous Juma had died after a long battle with cancer. Calestous, 64, was remembered for his contributions to the study of technology and innovation in Africa. In 1988, before embarking on distinguished public service and academic careers, he founded the African Centre for Technology Studies in Nairobi, a pioneering group that married government policy with science and technology to spur sustainable development and foster distinctly African perspectives on science.
He received international recognition for his scholarly work, winning the 2017 Breakthrough Paradigm Award and the 2014 Lifetime Africa Achievement Prize. He also earned induction into the United States National Academy of Sciences, Royal Society of London, World Academy of Arts and Sciences, and African Academy of Sciences, among other honours.
Beyond gratitude for our friendship, I owed much to both men, whose interests converged with mine on a number of international platforms.
I worked closely with Calestous in the late 1990s when he was the founding director of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in Montreal and I was elected chair of the CBD’s Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA). It was during this time that I realised the crucial role that scientific consensus and advice could play in informing policymakers to develop sound strategies, plans and programmes in sustainable development.
Increasingly, international relations and diplomacy — once confined to diplomats and career civil servants — now involve academics, corporate figures and civil society leaders. This broadened perspective and engagement is especially important as the global community grapples with the reality of climate change and complex interlinked problems of water and sanitation, energy, healthcare, food security and biodiversity loss.
Calestous was as instrumental in advancing this evolution in policy-making as he was in convincing our then scientific colleagues to elect me and Sir Robert Watson as co-chairs of the governing board of the UN’s Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA). Conducted from 2001 to 2005 and involving 1,360 experts from 95 countries, it remains the largest-ever audit of biodiversity and the condition of and trends in the world’s ecosystem services.
The then UN secretary-general, Kofi Annan, in his Millennium Report, hailed the MA as “an outstanding example of the sort of international scientific and political cooperation that is needed to further the cause of sustainable development”.
The MA gave birth to the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) in April 2012, which I had the honour of chairing during its first three years.
I became friends with the junior Castro when I was working at the United Nations University in Tokyo. Fidelito had an uncanny resemblance to his famous father. Physically imposing, but, gentle and soft-spoken, he was, like Calestous, a natural “thought leader” who often spoke out on the needs and aspirations of scientists from the developing world. He was also a frequent lead speaker at the annual meetings of the Science for Society Forum in Kyoto, the scientific equivalent to the World Economic Forum conceived by the former Japanese minister of finance, Koji Omi.
It is not unreasonable to conclude that the leadership, friendship and camaraderie extended by these two iconic figures helped to advance the scientific enterprise, fostered international collaboration and promoted world peace through science diplomacy. All of us are left poorer by their unexpected departure.
Tan Sri Zakri Abdul Hamid is science adviser to the prime minister and chairman of the National Professors Council. News Straits Times.
Retrieved from https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/columnists/2018/02/334720/when-music-died
RECENTLY, there was an uproar in the news about rice production woes faced by local farmers.
Two rice varieties, named MR220 CL1 and MR220 CL2, were introduced about seven years ago to control the menace of weedy rice or padi angin.
The two varieties are unique because they have genes which confer tolerance to herbicide. When sprayed on the rice crop,
a special herbicide named
“OnDuty” will kill the padi angin, but, will spare the rice plants from being affected. “OnDuty” is bundled and sold with the rice varieties in the Clearfield production system.
The emergence of weedy rice is a phenomenon essentially triggered by the recent rise of direct seeding — the uniform scattering of seeds across fields. In the past, rice farmers grew rice by transplanting — a method of weed control for wet or puddled fields. Transplanting requires less seed, but much more labour then direct seeding. Also, transplanted rice takes longer to mature due to transplanting shock.
Farmers started to practise direct seeding in early 1990s and it is now widespread in all our 10 rice granary areas — which feature major irrigation schemes (more than 4,000ha) and are recognised by the government as the country’s main rice producing areas.
Due to heavy infestations, padi angin has now put our rice productivity under siege.
There are several hypotheses which suggest how padi angin originated. However, there is strong evidence to support the hypothesis that weedy rice varieties are actually progenies
of hybrids formed naturally
between cultivated rice and a species of wild rice which is prevalent where rice is usually grown.
Weedy rice resembles cultivated rice. Farmers call them padi angin because the seeds are easily shattered by wind before or during crop harvest, and fall on to the soils. Because the seeds have a strong dormancy, they quickly build up into a potent weed seed bank in the soils, which provides the reserve of viable weed seeds from season to season.
They compete for sunlight, water and nutrients, and quickly dominate the field. They take up most of the fertilisers applied to the rice crop, and the yield loss can reach between 60 and 90 per cent, or, may even result in complete crop failure. In 2004, the production loss due to padi angin was estimated at RM90 million. Now, widespread infestations have drastically reduced farmers’ rice yields and incomes.
Previously, farmers removed padi angin manually or killed them by spot spraying with herbicides. Such practices were time consuming, and are no longer practical and effective.
When Clearfield varieties were introduced, they quickly gained popularity. Farmers, who previously had yields of less than three tonnes per hectare, began enjoying harvests three times greater.
Now, those farmers are seeing an ugly side of the new technology. The same herbicide used before no longer kill padi angin effectively. Padi angin has become kebal or herbicide resistant and yields have plummeted back to between and three and four tonnes per ha.
The Malaysian Agricultural Research and Development Institute (MARDI) and the multi-national Germany-based chemical company BASF developed the
Clearfield special purpose varieties. They are scientifically proven to be a good solution to weedy rice, but farmers must strictly follow a set of do’s and don’ts for the system to work. For example, seven days after direct-seeding, the herbicide must be applied when the soil is saturated (wet but not flooded).
The varieties were recommended only as a stop-gap measure to combat weedy rice. Farmers were supposed to grow them in only two successive planting seasons in a year, leaving an interval of one planting season. Once the weedy rice is no longer a problem farmers then have the option to grow any other varieties.
Attracted by the high yields, farmers grew the Clearfield varieties more often than prescribed. And, large numbers of farmers also had easy access to
uncertified seeds, planting them without using the required herbicide.
Population of weedy rice in the fields increased drastically. It became prone to cross breed with rice and evolved into hybrids. The process resulted in the transfer of the herbicide-tolerance gene, thus, turning the progenies of the hybrids into super weeds.
Padi angin is not a unique problem to Malaysia. Worldwide, weedy rice affects about 10 per cent of total rice production.
The super weeds have emerged as another new devastating menace to our rice production. Undoubtedly, farmers’ incomes, rice prices, crop yield levels, and our global food security index status will be at stake, sooner rather than later. Therefore, we urgently need to get our act together and review current approaches and come out with new strategies to achieve sustainable solutions for our weedy rice management.
In the final analysis, one thing is for sure: to be progressive, we need to support new technologies such as the Clearfield rice system and others that improve yields and help crops adapt to changing conditions. The point seems to be that the importance of using these technologies properly is as great as the importance of these technologies to our long term ability to feed a growing world population.
The writer is science adviser to the prime minister and founding president of the Genetics Society of Malaysia (1994-2000).News Straits Times.
Retrieved from https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/columnists/2018/02/332147/rice-crops-under-siege
Katanya pada 2013, jumlah pelaburan di Kelantan sebanyak RM995 juta, 2015 (RM353 juta) dan 2016 (RM514 juta).
“Bagaimanapun, sepanjang tempoh lima tahun itu, hanya RM58 juta diaplikasikan berikutan terdapat beberapa masalah termasuklah kegagalan tiga syarikat yang diberi lesen untuk memulakan industri pembuatan simen tersebut,” katanya.
Beliau berkata demikian kepada pemberita selepas menyaksikan Majlis Memeterai Perjanjian Usaha Sama Pelaburan antara A-Bio Sdn Bhd dan Ain Medicare Sdn Bhd di Kawasan Perindustrian Pengkalan Chepa di sini, hari ini.
Mustapa berkata jumlah pelaburan di Kelantan adalah rendah berbanding negeri-negeri lain berikutan pelabur berdepan dengan kesukaran terutamanya berkaitan kemudahan infrastruktur seperti kualiti dan bekalan air yang kurang memuaskan.
“Kita perlu mencari kaedah yang lebih baik untuk meningkatkan jumlah pelaburan di negeri ini dan pada masa sama, saya berharap pihak yang berkaitan dapat mengambil perhatian terhadap masalah yang dihadapi oleh pemain industri,” katanya.
Terdahulu, perjanjian itu dimeterai antara Pengerusi A-Bio Sdn Bhd Tan Sri Ahmad Ramli Mohd Nor dan Pengerusi Ain Medicare Sdn Bhd Datuk Wan Ariff Wan Hamzah.
Menerusi perjanjian tersebut, A-Bio yang merupakan syarikat pelaburan strategik di bawah Kumpulan Industri-Kerajaan bagi Teknologi Tinggi (MIGHT) akan melakukan pelaburan strategik sebanyak RM20 juta dalam Ain Medicare untuk meningkatkan lagi daya saing syarikat itu dalam industri bioteknologi perubatan khususnya pengeluaran produk bio-farmaseutikal tempatan yang bernilai tinggi.
A-Bio juga adalah satu program strategik di bawah Unit Perancang Ekonomi di Jabatan Perdana Menteri, yang melakukan pelaburan dalam syarikat berkaitan tiga sektor utama iaitu industri berasaskan bio dan bioteknologi, industri teknologi baharu muncul dan industri hijau.