I just read Datuk Seri Najib's jottings about 'innovation' (here) on his blog. Interesting and very stimulating.
However, I have to write a few lines about innovation and our achievement thus far in 'exploring and innovating' our products and resources. And I personally don't see much success in such efforts, except a few.
Fifty-four years after Independence, we can be proud of our achievement in research and development (R & D) and specific innovation, except that our allocation for R & D is only about 5 per cent of the GDP as compared to 15 per cent in Singapore, 18 per cent in Japan and more than 10 per cent in China, South Korea and the Western nations.
Yes, we are proud that our innovation has won many awards and accolades in many international competition. Our scientists and researchers did well in putting Malaysia on the world innovation map. Impressive, isn't it? How many trophies have we collected so far?
However, what happened to most of the researches? And what is the point of competing and winning if the results of such researches fail to improve our product, diversify our production capability and most important in seeing its positive impact on the livelihood of the rakyat?
Except for high-end products and in advanced-technological industries, other sectors seem to run on similar basic procedures, most of which are slow and and can be perceived as conservatively ill-managed.
What happened to many 'winning trophies' won by Mardi, Majuikan (LKIM), RRI, UPM, Felda, Felcra, USM, MTIB and others? Most of the 'award-winning' research are not made to good use. In other words, research is only for competition!
Fifty-four years after Independence, such researches still fail to make us a self-reliance nation. We keep on importing most items that we should and could source it locally. While the government gives strong emphasis on exports, we at the same time enjoy large imports of unnecessary goods.
Fifty-four years after Independence, our rice production is still not sufficient for local consumption. The acreage of padi plantation has not increased and our quality of rice has never improved since the 'Malinja' and 'Mahsuri' breed were introduced more than 35 years ago. We still make comparison to Thai's fragrance rice and India's bashmati when our soil and climate are compatible to that of Thailand and India. What happened to our 'award-winning' researches?
Fifty-four years after Independence, our dairy and meat production is still about 15 per cent of domestic demand. We keep on importing dairy product and beef from Australia, New Zealand, India and other countries. Our research even fails to improve local production. Had we make an effort to increase it by 1 per cent a year since Independence, our local production must has reached and astonishing 50 per cent by now, and a lot of money can be saved on imports.
Fifty-four years after Independence, we keep on importing tropical fruits while exporting ours to Singapore, only to be re-sold as 'Produce of Singapore'. Our fruits which are Singapore-produced are popular in most of the Arab countries. Some years ago, the UAE and Saudi Arabia did offer Malaysia to supply 10 tonnes of tropical fruits to them. Unfortunately, we had to turn down the offer because we didn't have the capacity. Instead, Singapore voluntarily offered its service!
Fifty-four years after Independence, our supply of protein from the deep sea is still very unsatisfactory. We have to multiply its imports. Sadly, most of our fishermen are still using small fishing boats that can only take them a few nautical miles off the shores. As a result, foreign fishermen in big boats are sweeping away our resources.
Fifty-four years after Independence, we still import toothpicks, toothbrushes and combs. My God!
There are many other instances but I hope the govt (and Datuk Seri Najib) read this. Our innovation may works well in hi-tech industry but still lacks when it comes to improving some sectors of the peoples' economy. Yes, we have good ideas about something but most of it fail to contribute to national progress as a whole.
Do I have to write more?