ONLY 25 of 100 countries evaluated by the World Economic Forum are positioned to benefit from Industry 4.0. Malaysia is one of them.
In a report, “Readiness for the Future of Production”, the researchers used new benchmarks, diagnostic tools and data to help countries understand their readiness for the future of production, as well as corresponding opportunities and challenges.
The assessment framework has two main components: “Structure of production” (a country’s baseline of production), and “drivers of production” (the key enablers that position a state to transform production systems and capitalise on the Fourth Industrial Revolution, or 4IR).
There are 59 indicators across these two components. The report defines “readiness” as the ability to capitalise on future production opportunities, mitigate risks and challenges, and be resilient and agile in responding to unknown future shocks.
One example of companies leading the way into the future of production in Malaysia is First Solar, a leading global provider of comprehensive photovoltaic (PV) solar energy solutions with more than 10GW installed worldwide.
This installed capacity produces enough clean electricity annually to power five million households, save more than 18 billion litres of water, displace seven million metric tons of CO2 per year, and reduce other air pollutants by 89 to 98 per cent.
This American company started operation in 2008 and Malaysia hosts the largest high-technology manufacturing site for First Solar’s advanced thin- film PV modules.
The 65ha Kulim High-Tech Park employs talent from universities and provides the community with high-tech jobs in the manufacturing sector.
Last week, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri led a delegation from Malaysia Industry-Government Group for High Technology (MIGHT) to First Solar Malaysia.
“Strategic investments by global technology and manufacturing leaders like First Solar will help Malaysia realise its 4IR goal and our local talent will also gain from the exposure and become world class.”
First Solar Malaysia managing director Datuk P’ng Soo Hong said: “First Solar chose Malaysia as a base due to the ability to find and retain good talent, well developed and excellent infrastructure, political stability and pro-business government policies.
“Malaysia is firming up its position as one of the largest solar panel producing nations and overtaking much larger competitor nations as world-class companies start to expand their capacities in Malaysia.”
The government’s efforts to provide free education have contributed to the development of a skilled workforce in the country. Coupled with the population’s command of the English language, foreign investors in Malaysia can expect accessibility to a valuable pool of local talent to help further their business ambitions.
Recently, Malaysia secured 27th place in the Global Talent Competitiveness Index 2018. It was ranked among the top 10 most talented competitive countries in Asia Pacific, beating South Korea.
Based on the “Malaysian Solar PV Roadmap” prepared by Might, Malaysia is on course to becoming a major player in the solar power industry, particularly in the manufacture of solar PV cells and modules.
Malaysia is the third largest manufacturer of PV cells and modules in the world, after China and Taiwan. Malaysia has an almost complete solar ecosystem of some 250 companies involved in upstream (producing wafers and cells) and downstream (inverters and system integrators) activities.
The Malaysian Investment Development Authority said the value of exports by solar manufacturing companies here was RM11.1 billion while local sourcing activities were valued at RM1.42 billion in 2016.
Manufacturers talk about the Fourth Industrial Revolution in terms of using new technologies such as sensors, robotics, and data analytics to gain insights into product use, improved productivity and improved competitiveness.
New techniques will change the products, processes, and relationships involved in every aspect of industry. Better customer experiences, higher levels of efficiency and more highly skilled jobs will be part and parcel of the 4IR journey.
The opportunity is clear, but this will disrupt traditional business models.
Our local high technology industry cannot, however, opt out. 4IR is upon us, whether we like it or not. The world turns, as always. But now it turns on a dime, or rather a computer chip.
Zakri Abdul Hamid is the science adviser to the prime minister and joint chairman of the Malaysian Industry-Government Group for High Technology (MIGHT). He can be reached via email@example.com
News Straits Times.
Retrieved from https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/columnists/2018/03/349424/riding-wave-4ir
ON March 8, we were again reminded of our vulnerability to natural disasters with a 5.2 magnitude earthquake in Sabah. Although there was no casualty, more than 100 climbers on their way to Mount Kinabalu were temporarily halted.
Professor Felix Tongkul of Universiti Malaysia Sabah identified it as a new quake, not an aftershock of the 6.0 magnitude earthquake in 2015 which killed 18 people and left many others injured.
Natural disasters are becoming more frequent and intense, contributing to the displacement of people leading to humanitarian crises, with the poor most severely impacted.
Between 2001 and 2006, middle-income countries with rapidly expanding assets have borne the largest burden of such disasters, with losses equal to about one per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP) — 10 times the losses inflicted on developed countries, relative to the economy.
In the Pacific’s small island developing states, climate change-related losses reach as high as eight per cent of GDP, with worse yet to come.
In Asia generally, climate change-related hazards increasingly will impact human health, security, livelihoods, and poverty. Rising coastal, riverine and urban flooding leading to widespread damage to infrastructure and settlements has been identified as one of the region’s 10 critical risks, gradually challenging Asia’s resilience and development gains.
Malaysia’s main climate change-related hazards are floods, landslides, thunderstorms, forest fires, and haze.
In 2014, we experienced unprecedented flooding with more than 500,000 people affected, 21 lives lost, more than 3,000 houses destroyed, and over RM2.8 billion in damage to public infrastructure.
Last October, extreme rainfall triggered a landslide at a Penang construction site, killing 11 people.
In 2015, this and neighbouring countries were enveloped in a severe episode of transboundary haze, presenting serious health risks.
Disaster risk reduction has been integrated into Malaysia’s overall national development plans over many decades, with science and technology applied in regulations, policies, guidelines, standards, procedures and early warning systems operated at state and local levels. Involved agencies include the Meteorology, Drainage and Irrigation, Minerals and Geoscience, Public Works, and Environment Departments. The private sector and scientists from academia are also deeply involved.
Concerns about the increasing frequency and impact of disasters, however, have prompted several new national initiatives. One of these is the establishment of a Scientific Expert Panel (SEP) to provide timely and evidence-based advice to the National Disaster Management Agency (Nadma).
This panel has been officially endorsed by the National Science Council, chaired by the prime minister, and is complementing and enhancing Nadma’s efforts as a national coordinating agency.
Fostering relevant scientific and technological innovation and capabilities is a vital contribution to mitigating the impact of catastrophes, as is strengthening the science-policy interface and robust evidence-based reporting.
We need to carefully harness this potential to reduce disaster-related harm to people both directly and to our economy, with a specific focus on protecting the poor in vulnerable situations.
To quote former UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon, “Climate change harms the poor first and worst — the poor are the most vulnerable and have the least resources with which to adapt”.
SEP members are helping formulate the National Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) Plan for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) — identifying and prioritising actions to build resilience and to reduce the exposure and vulnerability of communities.
This includes, for example, how to promote sustainable food production systems and resilient agricultural practices, thereby strengthening adaptation to extreme weather, drought, floods and other disasters.
To be effective, we need to promote public-private and civil society partnerships, and to build capacity to innovate and to share information at local levels to enhance recovery processes.
There is no single approach for reducing risks across all settings and there is an urgent need to understand specific disaster risks in national and local level contexts.
Effective measures must consider the dynamics of vulnerability and exposure, and their linkages with socioeconomic processes, sustainable development and climate change.
FOR disaster prevention: big data and analytics, in conjunction with improved weather and flood forecasting modelling, will allow future disasters to be accurately predicted;
FOR disaster mitigation: advanced flood walls can contain waters, preventing damage to infrastructure and assets,;
FOR disaster preparedness: drones can provide real-time, on- site situation information linked to public warning systems;
FOR disaster response: robotics can support relief and clean-up efforts, accessing areas too dangerous for humans; and,
FOR disaster recovery: reusable ecohomes can provide quick, easy way to build temporary housing, using waste from the disaster zones.
It is primarily in cities and towns that the most effective disaster resilience can be built. National, state and local governments, academia, civil society, business and other stakeholders will each play a significant role translating science into action.
It is our hope that the STI Plan for DRR enhances cooperation between stakeholders, improves information, communications and knowledge sharing, and empowers our greater use of technology to protect lives and our hard won economic progress.
The writer, Zakri Abdul Hamid is a science adviser to the prime minister, co-chairs the SEP with the director-general of Nadma. He can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org
News Straits Times.
Retrieved from https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/columnists/2018/03/346768/harness-science-reduce-impact-catastrophes
Protecting nature is no longer deemed a whimsical luxury. It is an economic, cultural and ecological necessity.
Increasingly, conservation is accepted as part of mainstream policymaking because nature provides us with so many essential services — pollination, pest control, food security, medicine and preventing the spread of diseases.
Think about the importance of pollination, for example. Most of the world’s food crops and wild flowering plants depend on pollination by bats, birds, bees and butterflies, which are, therefore, guarantors of human food security.
Intensive agriculture, pesticides, pollution, invasive species and climate change pose threats to pollinators and, therefore, to human wellbeing. In addition to pollination, bats consume large numbers of harmful insects, thereby reducing damage to crops, the need for chemical pesticides, and the spread of malaria, dengue fever and other diseases.
Growing awareness of these animals’ vital role, thanks in no small part to a landmark Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) assessment report on pollinators launched in Kuala Lumpur in 2016, has encouraged nations to take steps. The United Nations even recently declared May 20 as World Bee Day.
In addition to their vital services, animals are also the bedrock of a multi-billion-dollar global ecotourism industry.
Animals are simply beautiful and fascinating, and their contribution to national economies is considerable. Tourism is booming worldwide with more than 1.1 billion foreign trips made in 2014 and one of the most vibrant sectors is eco-tourism, the branch that includes wildlife watching.
Ours ranks among the world’s most biodiverse countries with large numbers of endemic species, part of internationally renowned hotspots such as the Coral Triangle and Sundaland — home to elephants, monkeys, orangutans, tigers, tapirs and rhinoceroses.
Naturally, Malaysia’s share of the tourism business is big — around 25 million tourists every year, many of them attracted by this country’s aquatic and terrestrial wonders.
Studies have shown that wild animals can generate far more income alive than dead. The meat and gills of a Manta Ray, for example, might bring US$500 (RM2,000). A living specimen can, however, contribute tourist revenue of millions of dollars over its lifetime.
To protect our natural heritage, and corresponding economic interests, we must not only act at home but must also engage internationally.
There are five international conventions working towards the protection of biodiversity: the Convention on Biological Diversity, the World Heritage Convention, the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species and Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS).
Malaysia is a party to the first four, but, curiously, not to CMS. Negotiated by world governments in the late 1970s, CMS coordinates global action to conserve land-based, aquatic and bird wildlife that cyclically and predictably crosses international borders.
Migratory species are an integral part of the world’s fauna, but are threatened due to climate change, pollution, habitat loss, illegal trade and poaching.
CMS has 124 parties, including Brazil, India and other G20 countries and the list continues to grow with the United Arab Emirates being one of the newest recruits. These countries recognise that conserving migratory species is the responsibility of all Range States and that the convention provides a platform through which to collaborate.
Malaysia, notwithstanding its rich wildlife, has yet to join, despite having signed the regional instrument for marine turtles of the Indian Ocean concluded under CMS.
Certainly, Malaysia is committed to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) agreed at a United Nations summit in September 2015 and attended by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak. Among the tools at Malaysia’s disposal to turn good intentions into real achievement on the ground is active membership of the biodiversity-related conventions, because a clean and flourishing environment is a prerequisite for sustainable development.
Many of the species in Malaysia occur here and nowhere else. Malaysia therefore bears a duty to ensure their survival. But many species also migrate through Malaysia, and the country has a shared responsibility as one link in the chain of the life cycles of marine turtles, whales, dolphins and dugongs as well as countless birds.
Malaysia succeeded in achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the precursors of SDGs, to which the Malaysian government is also committed.
CMS is of direct relevance to the implementation of SDGs, in particular, goal 14, relating to life below water, and goal 15, life on land.
Surely it is time for our country to accede to CMS, to complete Malaysia’s membership in the set of international environmental agreements, and to fill an important gap in the Convention’s global coverage.
Tan Sri Dr Zakri Abdul Hamid, is science adviser to the prime minister and the founding chair of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).
News Straits Times.
Retrieved from https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/columnists/2018/03/344196/animals-good-our-health
AS the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) continues to gather steam, Kuala Lumpur hosted one of the most enlightening conferences in recent weeks, one in which experts considered the relevance of an ancient institution to modern challenges.
Sponsored by the Higher Education Ministry, the conference considered the Islamic practice of waqf— the endowment of a charitable foundation or property held in trust and used for a charitable or religious purpose — and its relevance to 4IR.
In the words of the Minister Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh: “Waqf is an economic system led by the people, for the people. It leads to the creation of the third sector that complements the public and private sectors.”
The big question is how this age-old Islamic institution could be engaged to alleviate poverty and advance economic prosperity, in particular among the 57-member countries of the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC), many of which are among the world’s poorest.
Equally intriguing, is how we might enrich the principles and practices of waqf through technology.
In an eloquent keynote address, Sultan of Perak Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah explained that the concept of waqf preceded trusts and endowments.
A donor endows a waqf with an asset and, in doing so, makes an irrevocable transfer of that asset, while also stipulating the intended charitable use of the funds it generates.
A waqf institution then spends its revenue in perpetuity on the fulfilment of public needs, according to the wishes and conditions established by the donor.
Once registered as waqf under Islamic law, the asset can no longer be inherited, sold or given as a gift, a permanence that reflects the original sense of waqf, which means “to freeze” or “to stop”.
Only generated revenue can be channelled to stipulated beneficiaries.
Islam is the first religion to develop a comprehensive legal framework to promote, guide and foster endowments and charitable trusts and, “waqf undoubtedly stands as one of the greatest contributions of Muslim civilisation”, Sultan Nazrin had said.
“Throughout the Islamic world, and across many centuries, waqf has led to the completion of magnificent works of architecture, and has allowed vital services, including education and healthcare, to be financed, organised and maintained, for the benefit of hundreds of thousands of individuals, Muslims and non-Muslims alike.”
It was intriguing to learn from his remarks that the law governing waqf was borrowed by the English following the Crusades in the Holy Land (1095-1291), when they became acquainted with Islamic jurisprudence and culture.
Sultan Nazrin gave the example of Merton College at Oxford University, established with a financial endowment in 1264.
This endowment, of course, has facilitated centuries of scholarship, learning and teaching, safeguarding and fostering the freedom of thought and expression so essential to the university system today.
On the other side of the Atlantic, one of the world’s most famous university endowments is that of Harvard, which last year paid out US$1.3 billion (RM5.1 billion) — a sum, the sultan noted, larger than the government budgets of Afghanistan, Montenegro and Barbados.
“This endowment, which has facilitated so much discovery and learning, is ultimately modelled on the Islamic waqf system.
“It is a testament to the contribution that the concept of waqf has made to progress and development worldwide, and it also demonstrates the immense potential of the waqf instrument to generate funds for international public good.”
Among the many other excellent points raised by Sultan Nazrin was the need for a better system for the governance of waqf, especially in Malaysia where, we were told, only two per cent of some 13,500ha of waqf land had been redeveloped.
Hopefully, the establishment of a Chair in Waqf Studies at Universiti Malaya, announced by Idris during the conference, will contribute to a better understanding of waqf and how its potential could be harnessed to improve the lives of citizens.
One of the most pressing issues in need of waqf support in today’s world is science and technology. The use of new technological solutions, such as blockchain technology, will enable the prudent tracking and monitoring of waqf donors, beneficiaries and businesses.
Inevitably, 4IR will herald in unprecedented technologies that will revolutionise traditional ways of creating value.
Digital connectivity will be useful to open up new opportunities for innovative business models, as well as research and development-related investments, to unlock the full potential of waqf assets.
As the sultan astutely observed: “Technological advances are being made every day, and emerging breakthroughs, in fields such as artificial intelligence, robotics, the Internet of Things, nanotechnology and biotechnology, will no doubt further enhance the potential of the waqf system in ways that we cannot imagine today.”
Tan Sri Dr Zakri Abdul Hamid is science adviser to the prime minister and chairman of board of directors, Universiti Malaya.News Straits Times.
Retrieved from https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/columnists/2018/03/341460/waqf-can-boost-science