Preparing ourselves for the digital battlefield / Kesiapsiagaan Malaysia Menghadapi Medan Tempur Digital

Battlegrounds today are increasingly becoming a virtual one.

Global cyber threats now impact every aspect of our activities.

Businesses and consumers face commercial frauds and crimes that cause billions in financial losses; nations are threatened with malware that disrupts its systems and functions.

It is shocking to learn that in December 2015 Ukraine’s power grid network were reportedly hacked and planted with malware, which knocked out part of its power line operations. The resulting power outage affected more than 200,000 residents.

In early 2016, the central bank of Bangladesh reportedly lost US$81 million through a sophisticated cyber-heist.

The incident jolted the world’s banking community and is a timely reminder for all of us that cyber-attacks are imminent and can strike at every corner of the world.

The ordeal seems endless. Every time new defences against cyber-attacks are designed, resourceful cyber criminals will seek new ways to penetrate them. It is no longer whether it will happen, but when it will happen or worse – it may already happened without your knowledge.

Cyber-attacks on e-commerce, vital businesses and government agencies are real. No one is spared from cyber threats. We find ourselves constantly trying to stay one step ahead.

This calls for us to be cyber-resilient. Unfortunately, most companies in Malaysia do not have robust cyber response plans or the opportunity to conduct realistic drills. This lack of cyber preparedness is further aggravated by the severe global shortfall of trained cyber security experts.

Just over a week ago in early September 2016, I officiated the opening of the new Cyber Range Malaysia (CRM) facility at the International Islamic University Malaysia in Gombak, Kuala Lumpur. An initative of Cyber Security Malaysia, it is the first-of-its-kind high-tech cyber security centre of excellence in the country.

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It is established to help organisations in Malaysia test and validate their systems to ensure greater resiliency in their network infrastructure and operations. We can be proud that CRM deploys technologies similar to some of the largest cyber ranges around the world, such as the U.S. Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency National Range.

This new state-of-the-art facility is part of a broader effort of the Malaysian National Cyber Security Policy to improve the resiliency of the said government systems, or Critical National Information Infrastructure (CNII), against cybercrime, terrorism, and information warfare. CRM will also contribute towards reducing the number of information security incidents through improved awareness and skill-building.

Visualising Cyber Range

To understand the term “range”, we can think of a military firing range where the army carries out live-fire exercise to become expert in the use of a weapon. But rather than a physical environment comprising cardboard soldiers and dummy targets, cyber range is one is virtualised and hosted by a network of high-powered super-computers.

A cyber range is akin to having the entire Internet in a bottle – a virtual environment on a massive scale.

The mammoth scale in a cyber range offers the capacity to emulate any host domain and an infinite variety of endpoints.

Those virtual elements can then be subjected to countless simulated external or internal cyber exploits.

Users can easily create and tear-down entire network environments to test the performance of new hardware and software.

A cyber range offers organisations a practical and controlled setting where cyber-attack scenarios and security responses can be evaluated in real-world conditions, recorded and analysed to improve the overall resilience of target networks.

It essentially allows an organisation to test very large-scale cyber security solutions without impacting operations.

A Hub for “Ethical Hacking”

In fact, one of the most effective ways to fully understand the weakness present in a network is to attack a network, known as “ethical hacking”. However, these types of tests are potentially destructive and could compromise network stability and even cause service failure. Cyber Range removes such paradox by providing a unique testing environment that allows large and small scale networks to be simulated using a combination of virtual and physical devices.

The advantage of Cyber Range is that, once a network has been placed onto it, the network can be attacked and defended without having to place the organisation’s actual networks at risk. The Cyber Range’s simulations can also be used to test hardware, software and to help prepare for any large network upgrades or to diagnose network problems.

Cyber Range’s interactive environment is also an ideal place to train and educate network responders and infrastructure design teams to be more secure and efficient.

CRM plays a key role in identifying and plugging gaps in our organisations’ IT security, especially in the area of network resiliency through a service offering called Testing as a service (TaaS), which can optimise IT investments in security while minimizing test investments. When testing security devices needs to be done quickly and accurately, TaaS provides a fast, accurate, and reliable means of validating them.

Up-skilling Our Cyber Warriors

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We also see the opportunity to provide an education and training platform for Malaysia through CRM by introducing Certified Cyber Defender Associate courses for network administrators, information security officers and C-level IT professionals. Security practitioners need to sharpen and upgrade their skills to deal with cyber threats of growing sophistication. These certified courses will equip our future cyber warriors to defend their organisation and formulate defence strategies against sophisticated cyber-attacks.

The Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI) through Cyber Security Malaysia aims to achieve at least 10,000 cyber security professionals by 2020. In preparing to face the new economy, we acknowledge the need for a strong pool of cyber security talent to build a dynamic cyber security ecosystem that can support Malaysia’s transformation into a high income digital economy.

With CRM, we hope to encourage more to join the profession as well as encouraging cyber security professionals to hone their skills to stay a step ahead in the ever-evolving cyber security landscape.

This article was also published in the Daily Express Sabah on Sunday 25th September 2016.


Kesiapsiagaan Malaysia Menghadapi Medan Tempur Digital

Medan tempur pada hari ini semakin berbentuk maya.

Kini ancaman siber pada peringkat global mula memberikan kesan kepada segala aspek dalam aktiviti kita. Perniagaan dan pengguna berdepan dengan penipuan dan jenayah komersial yang mengakibatkan kerugian kewangan sehingga berbilion ringgit; banyak negara diancam bahaya serangan perisian hasad yang mengganggu sistem dan fungsi negara berkenaan.

Agak mengejutkan juga apabila mendapat tahu bahawa pada Disember 2015, rangkaian grid kuasa Ukraine dilaporkan telah digodam dan ditembusi perisian hasad, yang melumpuhkan sebahagian daripada operasi kuasa elektriknya. Gangguan kuasa elektrik yang berlaku itu menjejaskan lebih daripada 200,000 penduduk.

Pada awal 2016, bank pusat Bangladesh dilaporkan kerugian AS$ 81 juta melalui suatu insiden rompakan siber yang cukup canggih.

Insiden tersebut mengejutkan komuniti perbankan sedunia dan juga merupakan peringatan yang tepat pada masanya buat kita semua bahawa serangan siber sememangnya tidak dapat dielakkan dan boleh menyerang seluruh pelosok dunia.

Pengalaman pahit ini seolah-olah tiada penghujungnya. Setiap kali sistem pertahanan baharu terhadap serangan siber dihasilkan, maka ada sahaja penjenayah siber yang panjang akal akan mencari cara baharu untuk menembusinya. Persoalannya bukan lagi sama ada ia akan berlaku, tetapi bila ia akan berlaku atau lebih teruk – ia mungkin sudah pun berlaku tanpa pengetahuan kita.

Serangan siber ke atas e-dagang, urus niaga penting dan agensi kerajaan memang berlaku. Tiada siapa pun yang terlepas daripada ancaman siber. Kita mendapati diri kita sentiasa berusaha untuk mendahului selangkah ke depan.

Hal ini menuntut kita supaya berdaya tahan terhadap ancaman siber. Malangnya, kebanyakan syarikat di Malaysia tidak memiliki pelan tindak balas siber yang kukuh atau kesempatan untuk mengendalikan latihan yang realistik. Kurangnya kesiapsagaan terhadap ancaman siber ini diburukkan lagi oleh kekurangan serius tenaga pakar keselamatan siber yang terlatih pada peringkat global.

Baru seminggu lebih yang lepas, iaitu pada awal September 2016, saya merasmikan pembukaan pusat latihan baharu, Cyber Range Malaysia (CRM) di Universiti Islam Antarabangsa Malaysia, Gombak, Kuala Lumpur. Inisiatif anjuran CyberSecurity Malaysia ini merupakan satu-satunya pusat kecemerlangan keselamatan siber teknologi tinggi di negara ini.

Penubuhan pusat latihan ini bertujuan membantu organisasi di Malaysia menguji dan mengesahkan sistem mereka bagi memastikan tahap daya tahan yang lebih tinggi dalam infrastruktur dan operasi rangkaian mereka. Kita boleh berbangga kerana CRM menggunakan teknologi yang serupa dengan beberapa lapang sasar siber terbesar di seluruh dunia, seperti Lapang Sasar Nasional Agensi Projek Penyelidikan Lanjutan Pertahanan Amerika Syarikat.

Pusat latihan baharu yang canggih ini merupakan sebahagian daripada usaha menyeluruh Dasar Keselamatan Siber Negara untuk meningkatkan daya tahan sistem kerajaan tersebut, atau Infrastruktur Maklumat Kritikal Negara (CNII), terhadap jenayah siber, keganasan dan perang maklumat.

CRM akan turut menyumbang ke arah usaha mengurangkan bilangan insiden keselamatan maklumat melalui kesedaran dan pembinaan kemahiran yang lebih baik.

Gambaran tentang Lapang Sasar Siber

Untuk memahami istilah “lapang sasar”, bolehlah kita bayangkan tentang lapang sasar menembak, iaitu tempat angkatan tentera menjalankan latihan penggunaan peluru hidup supaya menjadi lebih mahir dalam penggunaan senjata. Namun, berbanding persekitaran fizikal yang menggunakan askar kadbod dan patung sasaran, lapang sasar siber sebaliknya pula dikendalikan secara maya dan dihoskan oleh rangkaian superkomputer berkuasa tinggi.

Lapang sasar siber tidak ubah seperti menyumbat seluruh Internet ke dalam sebiji botol, iaitu persekitaran maya dalam skala yang besar.

Skala lapang sasar siber yang begitu besar menyediakan keupayaan untuk menyaingi mana-mana domain hos dan memberikan pelbagai pengakhiran yang tak terhingga. Maka pada ketika itu, elemen maya akan perlu berdepan dengan simulasi serangan siber yang tidak terkira banyaknya dari luar mahupun dari dalam.

Pengguna dengan mudah boleh mewujudkan dan meranapkan keseluruhan persekitaran rangkaian untuk menguji prestasi perkakasan dan perisian baharu.

Lapang sasar menawarkan kepada organisasi persekitaran yang praktikal dan terkawal bagi membolehkan senario serangan siber dan tindak balas keselamatan dinilai dalam dunia nyata, dirakam dan dianalisis bagi tujuan menambah baik keseluruhan daya tahan rangkaian sasaran.

Pada dasarnya, ia membolehkan sesebuah organisasi menguji penyelesaian keselamatan siber dalam skala yang sangat besar tanpa memberikan kesan kepada operasinya.

Sebenarnya, salah satu cara paling berkesan untuk betul-betul memahami kelemahan yang terdapat dalam sesebuah rangkaian adalah dengan menyerang rangkaian tersebut, yang dikenal sebagai “penggodaman beretika”. Namun begitu, ujian seumpama ini mungkin berpotensi mengakibatkan kemusnahan serta menjejaskan kestabilan rangkaian dan juga menyebabkan kegagalan perkhidmatan.

Maka dengan itu, Cyber Range menyingkirkan paradoks seumpama itu dengan menyediakan persekitaran ujian yang cukup unik bagi membolehkan rangkaian berskala besar dan kecil disimulasikan dengan menggunakan gabungan peranti maya dan fizikal.

Kelebihan yang ada pada Cyber Range, apabila sesuatu rangkaian telah ditempatkan di situ, membolehkan rangkaian tersebut diserang dan dipertahankan tanpa perlu membahayakan rangkaian sebenar organisasi berkenaan. Simulasi di Cyber Range boleh juga digunakan untuk menguji perkakasan, perisian serta membantu dalam persediaan bagi mana-mana proses peningkatan rangkaian yang besar atau mendiagnosis masalah rangkaian.

Persekitaran interaktif di Cyber Range juga merupakan tempat paling sesuai untuk melatih dan mengajar pengendali tindak balas rangkaian dan pasukan reka bentuk infrastruktur supaya menjadi lebih yakin dan cekap.

CRM memainkan peranan penting dalam mengenal pasti dan merapatkan jurang keselamatan teknologi maklumat di organisasi kita, terutamanya yang berkaitan dengan daya tahan rangkaian melalui penawaran perkhidmatan yang disebut sebagai Testing as a service (TaaS), yang dapat mengoptimumkan pelaburan dalam teknologi maklumat dari aspek keselamatan dan dalam masa yang sama meminimumkan pelaburan dalam ujian.

Pengujian peranti keselamatan perlu dilakukan dengan cepat dan tepat, maka TaaS menyediakan kaedah yang cepat, tepat, dan andal dalam mengesahkan peranti tersebut.

Meningkatkan Kemahiran Pejuang Siber Kita

Kita juga melihat adanya peluang untuk menyediakan platform pendidikan dan latihan bagi Malaysia melalui CRM dengan memperkenalkan kursus pensijilan Certified Cyber Defender Associate kepada pentadbir rangkaian, pegawai keselamatan maklumat dan profesional teknologi maklumat tahap C.

Pengamal keselamatan perlu mengasah dan meningkatkan kemahiran mereka dalam usaha menangani ancaman siber yang semakin canggih. Kursus pensijilan ini akan dapat melengkapi generasi pejuang siber masa depan untuk mempertahankan organisasi mereka dan merangka strategi pertahanan terhadap serangan siber yang canggih.

MOSTI melalui agensinya, CyberSecurity Malaysia menyasarkan untuk mencapai sekurang-kurangnya 10,000 profesional keselamatan siber menjelang 2020. Dalam persediaan menghadapi ekonomi baharu, kita menyedari betapa perlunya untuk mewujudkan sebuah kumpulan bakat keselamatan siber yang terlatih bagi tujuan membangunkan ekosistem keselamatan siber yang kukuh serta dapat menyokong transformasi Malaysia ke arah negara ekonomi digital berpendapatan tinggi.

Dengan adanya CRM, kita berharap dapat menggalakkan lebih ramai individu menyertai profesion ini dan juga menggalakkan profesional keselamatan siber mengasah kemahiran mereka supaya dapat mendahului selangkah ke hadapan dalam landskap keselamatan siber yang sentiasa berkembang.

Kemampuan syarikat di Malaysia untuk bersiap siaga dan cepat pulih daripada serangan siber dengan gangguan yang minimum akan menjadi kunci untuk terus bertahan dalam ekonomi digital.

 

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Making the Bioeconomy Inclusive / Mewujudkan Keterangkuman dalam Bioekonomi

Last week, I had the privilege of meeting with Noble Peace Laureate, Professor Muhammad Yunus who revolutionised banking for the poor through Grameen Bank that he founded in his home country Bangladesh.

We were attending the three-day Pangkor International Development Dialogue 2016 in Ipoh to deliver the keynote addresses, hence I managed to sit down and exchange views with this humble man.

Although I was meeting him for the first time his down-to-earth personality made me feel like I have known him for so many years.

We talked for just over 30 minutes at a small meeting room in the event venue, Casuarina@Meru but that brief meeting deeply inspired me.

Prof Yunus pioneered the concept of micro-financing and micro-crediting – a form of banking service to grant the underprivileged access to quality banking services.

This idea grew from his observation and concern for the poor, and he believed that to help alleviate them from poverty, they have to be empowered with financial principles and be granted small loans.

As conventional banks did not cater to their needs, Prof. Yunus founded Grameen Bank in 1967 to research on how a new system could provide banking services to the marginalised, which we would later come to recognise this new funding mechanism as microfinancing.

This model had since benefited millions of people not only in Bangladesh but other countries, and had inspired over a hundred developing countries to follow suit. Closer to home, the micro-credit programme implemented by Amanah Ikhtiar Malaysia (AIM) is in fact a mirror of Prof Yunus’ model.

Since its establishment in 1987, Amanah Ikhtiar has given out loans of more than RM15 billion to over 382,178 borrowers with 72, 246 of them going to Sabahans – the most compared to any other states in Malaysia.

Prof Yunus and Grameen Bank were rightfully awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 2006 for their work in “creating economic and social development from below.”

Prof Muhammad Yunus.jpgWith Prof. Muhammad Yunus at the Pangkor International Development Dialogue 2016.

During the meeting, I expressed that I too, believe in a “People’s Economy”, as supported by the government and laid out in the Eleventh Malaysia Plan, where we empower the people and place emphasis on societal development through various specific programmes.

The Bioeconomy Community Development Programme (BCDP) is one such programmes that promote inclusiveness in the economy.

It is an initiative of Bioeconomy Corporation, an agency under the purview of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI), and by being inclusive; it leads to growth and wealth that can be distributed in a socially and economically equitable manner.

It was a mandate given by the Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Najib Tun Razak himself as announced in Budget 2014 where the Government would implement the BCDP and under the programme, idle lands would be developed through the application of biotechnology as well as for contract farming to increase the value-added of the agro-based industry and income of farmers.

Projects from the BCDP could also elevate the household income of the lowest 40 per cent group (B40) and help them develop bio-agropreneurial skills.

In line with a people-centric economy, BCDP was designed to enlist rural farmers and the farming community to supply raw materials to biotechnology companies to create novel, innovative and high value-added bio-based products.

The BCDP is not a new concept of getting people to venture into farming, but the partnership between farmers and BioNexus status companies, a special status awarded to qualified international and Malaysian biotechnology companies that entitles them to certain support, is a unique one.

Farmers and their cooperatives or associations would leverage on funds from BCDP for trainings and essential farming purchases.

The involvement of anchor BioNexus status companies would allow for a buy-back guarantee arrangement with farmers, and informing them on what crops to grow, and their pricings in the market.

Simultaneously, these anchor companies would have a consistent supply of raw materials for the downstream development of bio-based products.

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Mechanism of BCDP.
Source: Bioeconomy Corporation

This concept of cooperatives meanwhile, is not hard to digest. The cooperatives in BCDP are commercial organisations owned by farmers to collectively sell their farm produce. It allows growers to accomplish collective functions they could not achieve on their own.

Such collaborations with other producers empower them in the marketplace where large agribusiness, clients of their produce, usually have the last say.

Producers would now have stronger negotiation power over their sales as they bypass one or more middlemen, subsequently raising their incomes.

Another hallmark of the BCDP is the application of bio-based technologies, a distinct advantage over conventional contract farming.

The adoption of bio-based technologies, tools and other high-tech farming technologies in current agricultural practices would enable farmers to improve their yields, standards and productivity.

As a result, BCDP projects can be executed more efficiently compared to conventional farming as less time is needed in managing the crops.

From an economic perspective, the programme is deemed to contribute to an additional income of RM4,500 per month per farmer. To date the BCDP has directly impacted 747 farmers and indirectly 3,586 people.

For the private sector, the BCDP programme is expected to increase the incomes of BioNexus status companies and BTP Trigger Projects to an average of RM 4.5 million per year per company, through the sustainable supply of raw materials by these farmers and reduce import substitution with savings up to RM 0.45 million per year per company.

Synergy is the key to cost-saving in BCDP. BCDP is part of the National Blue Ocean Strategy (NBOS) initiative, as it applies the NBOS principles of “high-impact, low cost, rapid execution”. Through collaboration with the public and private sector, BCDP projects are carried out at minimal cost.

The bee farming project in Kuala Linggi for example, is implemented with collaboration with MARDI Research Station.

The minimal cost enables Persatuan Penternak Madu Lebah Komersial Kuala Linggi to maximise its profit while leveraging on the abundance of food source for bees from the Acacia and Melaleuca trees located at the project site.

The involvement of BioNexus status companies and Biotechnology Transformation Programme (BTP) Trigger Projects also greatly reduce other operational costs such as for land clearing, procurement of equipment and training fees.

In Sabah, BCDP could certainly capitalise on the state’s abundant natural resources to produce value-added food and specialty products based on botanicals, aquatic plants and fauna.

Some BCDP projects that are in the pipeline in Sabah include seed production and bee farming in Kimanis, and shrimp aquaculture in Pitas.

A notable is the expansion of the Shiitake mushroom production facility by Koperasi Pembangunan Desa via Agrodesa Sdn Bhd.

The BCDP essentially reflects a model of inclusiveness and sustainability, even in the midst of an agricultural transformation and in the new economy.

It opens up a new avenue for wealth generation by elevate the socio-economic status of the rural communities.

I certainly hope that the success of these pilot projects in Sabah could encourage more participation in the BCDP.

This article was also published in the Daily Express Sabah on Sunday 11th September 2016.


Mewujudkan Keterangkuman dalam Bioekonomi

Pada minggu lalu, saya berasa bertuah kerana berpeluang menemui Pemenang Hadiah Nobel Keamanan, Profesor Muhammad Yunus yang telah merevolusikan sistem perbankan untuk golongan miskin melalui Grameen Bank yang ditubuhkan oleh beliau di negara kelahirannya, Bangladesh.

Kami dijemput menghadiri Dialog Pembangunan Antarabangsa Pangkor 2016 selama tiga hari di Ipoh untuk menyampaikan ucapan dasar. Saya berpeluang duduk bersama-sama tokoh yang suka merendah diri ini untuk bertukar-tukar pandangan.

Kami hanya dapat berbicara kira-kira 30 minit di dalam sebuah bilik mesyuarat kecil yang bertempat di Casuarina@Meru. Meskipun singkat, namun pertemuan itu memberikan inspirasi yang mendalam kepada diri saya.

Profesor Muhammad Yunus merintis konsep mikropembiayaan dan mikrokredit, iaitu suatu bentuk perkhidmatan perbankan yang membolehkan golongan tidak mampu mendapatkan khidmat perbankan yang berkualiti.

Idea baharu ini tercetus daripada pemerhatian dan keprihatinan beliau terhadap nasib golongan miskin. Beliau percaya bahawa untuk mengeluarkan mereka dari kancah kemiskinan, mereka harus diperkasakan dengan prinsip kewangan dan diberikan pinjaman kecil.

Memandangkan bank konvensional tidak dapat membantu mereka dalam hal ini, maka beliau menubuhkan Grameen Bank pada 1967 untuk mengkaji pelaksanaan sistem baharu yang dapat memberikan perkhidmatan perbankan kepada golongan terpinggir. Kaedah pendanaan ini kemudiannya dikenali sebagai mikropembiayaan.

Kaedah baharu ini telah memberikan manfaat kepada berjuta-juta orang, bukan sahaja di Bangladesh, tetapi juga di negara lain. Kaedah ini turut dicontohi oleh lebih seratus negara membangun. Di Malaysia, program mikrokredit yang dilaksanakan oleh Amanah Ikhtiar Malaysia sebenarnya mengikut kaedah beliau.

Sejak ditubuhkan pada 1987, Amanah Ikhtiar telah memberikan pinjaman bernilai lebih RM15 bilion kepada lebih 382,178 peminjam. Seramai 72,246 daripada peminjam ini adalah dari Sabah, bilangan paling ramai berbanding dengan negeri-negeri lain di Malaysia.

Sewajarnyalah Profesor Muhammad Yunus bersama Grameen Bank dianugerahi Hadiah Nobel Keamanan bagi 2016 atas sumbangan “mencetuskan pembangunan ekonomi dan sosial dari bawah.”

Dalam pertemuan itu, saya turut menyuarakan keyakinan saya terhadap “Ekonomi Rakyat,” seperti yang didukung oleh kerajaan dan dibentangkan dalam Rancangan Malaysia Kesebelas yang memperkasakan rakyat dan menekankan pembangunan masyarakat melalui pelbagai program khas.

Program Pembangunan Komuniti Bioekonomi (BCDP), sebuah inisiatif Bioconomy Corporation, adalah antara program seumpama ini yang memacu keterangkuman dalam ekonomi.

Dengan adanya keterangkuman, program ini membawa kepada pertumbuhan dan kekayaan yang dapat diagihkan secara saksama dari segi sosial dan ekonomi.

Seperti yang diumumkan dalam Belanjawan 2014, Perdana Menteri Dato’ Sri Najib Tun Razak sendiri memberikan mandat kepada program ini untuk dilaksanakan oleh kerajaan. Melalui program ini, tanah-tanah terbiar akan dibangunkan dengan menggunakan bioteknologi. Program ini juga melibatkan perladangan kontrak. Semuanya adalah untuk meningkatkan nilai tambah industri berasaskan pertanian dan pendapatan pekebun.

Projek-projek daripada BCDP juga mampu meningkatkan pendapatan isi rumah bagi kumpulan 40 peratus terendah (B40) dan membantu mereka membangunkan kemahiran keusahawanan dalam biopertanian.

Selaras dengan dasar ekonomi yang berteraskan rakyat, BCDP diwujudkan untuk menarik penyertaan pekebun luar bandar dan komuniti perladangan untuk membekalkan bahan mentah kepada syarikat bioteknologi, justeru bioproduk yang inovatif dan mempunyai nilai tambah yang tinggi dapat dihasilkan.

BCDP bukanlah sebuah konsep baharu yang menarik penyertaan rakyat dalam bidang perladangan. Program ini yang merupakan perkongsian antara pekebun dengan syarikat berstatus BioNexus, iaitu status istimewa yang diberikan kepada syarikat bioteknologi Malaysia dan antarabangsa yang layak diberikan sokongan tertentu, adalah unik.

Pekebun dan koperasi atau persatuan mereka akan dibantu dengan dana daripada BCDP untuk tujuan latihan dan pembelian keperluan asas perladangan.

Penglibatan syarikat berstatus BioNexus ini memberikan jaminan beli balik kepada pekebun selain memaklumkan mereka tentang jenis tanaman yang perlu ditanam dan harganya di pasaran.

Dengan cara ini juga, bekalan bahan mentah untuk pembangunan hiliran produk biopertanian syarikat ini terjamin.

Sementara itu, konsep koperasi dalam program ini tidak sukar untuk difahami. Koperasi dalam BCDP merupakan organisasi komersial milik pekebun untuk menjual hasil pertanian mereka secara kolektif. Fungsi kolektif tentunya tidak dapat dicapai jika mereka bertindak secara bersendirian.

Usaha sama sedemikian dengan pekebun lain akan memperkasakan mereka dalam pasaran yang biasanya ditentukan oleh syarikat besar yang membeli hasil pertanian mereka.

Pekebun kini mempunyai kuasa rundingan yang lebih kuat terhadap jualan mereka kerana orang tengah tidak lagi dapat memainkan peranan, justeru pendapatan pekebun akan meningkat.

Satu lagi ciri istimewa BCDP ialah penggunaan teknologi berasaskan bio yang ternyata memberikan kelebihan besar berbanding dengan perladangan kontrak konvensional.

Penggunaan peralatan dan teknologi berasaskan bio serta teknologi perladangan berteknologi tinggi yang lain dalam amalan pertanian semasa akan membolehkan pekebun menambah baik hasil, standard dan produktiviti mereka.

Kesannya, projek BCDP dapat dilaksanakan dengan lebih cekap berbanding dengan perladangan konvensional kerana masa untuk mengurus tanaman dapat dijimatkan.

Dari sudut ekonomi, program ini dilihat menyumbangkan pendapatan tambahan sebanyak RM4,500 sebulan bagi setiap pekebun. Sehingga kini, BCDP telah memberikan manfaat secara langsung kepada 747 pekebun dan manfaat secara tidak langsung kepada 3,586 orang.

Bagi sektor swasta pula, program BCDP dijangka melonjakkan pendapatan syarikat berstatus BioNexus dan Projek Pencetus BTP (BTP Trigger Projects) kepada purata RM4.5 juta setahun bagi setiap syarikat, menerusi pembekalan bahan mentah yang mampan daripada pekebun ini dan mengurangkan penggantian import dengan penjimatan sehingga RM0.45 juta setahun bagi setiap syarikat.

Sinergi ialah kunci kepada penjimatan kos dalam BCDP. BCDP adalah sebahagian daripada inisiatif Strategi Lautan Biru Kebangsaan (NBOS), kerana program ini menerapkan prinsip NBOS, iaitu “impak tinggi, kos rendah, pelaksanaan pantas.” Menerusi usaha sama dengan sektor awam dan swasta, projek BCDP dijalankan dengan kos yang minimum.

Projek ternakan lebah di Kuala Linggi misalnya, dijalankan dengan kerjasama Stesen Penyelidikan MARDI.

Dengan kos yang minimum ini, Persatuan Penternak Madu Lebah Komersial Kuala Linggi dapat memaksimumkan keuntungan selain memanfaatkan sumber makanan yang banyak untuk lebah yang datang daripada pokok Akasia dan Melaleuka yang tumbuh di tapak projek.

Penglibatan syarikat berstatus BioNexus dan Projek Pencetus Program Transformasi Bioteknologi (BTP) turut mengurangkan dengan banyaknya kos operasi yang lain, seperti kerja pemugaran tanah, pembelian peralatan dan yuran latihan.

Di Sabah, BCDP tentulah dapat memanfaatkan sumber asli negeri itu yang sememangnya kaya untuk menghasilkan makanan nilai tambah dan produk khas berasaskan botani, tumbuhan akuatik dan fauna.

Di Sabah, antara projek BCDP yang akan dilaksanakan ialah pengeluaran biji benih dan penternakan lebah di Kimanis, dan akuakultur udang di Pitas.

Satu usaha yang wajar disebut di sini ialah peluasan premis pengeluaran cendawan Shiitake oleh Koperasi Pembangunan Desa melalui Agrodesa Sdn Bhd.

BCDP benar-benar mencerminkan sebuah model keterangkuman dan kemampanan walaupun berada di tengah-tengah transformasi pertanian dan ekonomi baharu.

Program ini ternyata membuka jalan baharu ke arah menjanakan kekayaan dengan mengangkat status sosioekonomi masyarakat luar bandar.

Saya benar-benar berharap bahawa kejayaan projek rintis di Sabah ini akan menggalakkan lebih banyak penyertaan dalam BCDP.

Malaysia on World Map in Science Diplomacy / Malaysia di Peta Dunia dalam Diplomasi Sains

If you are asked to imagine the Antarctic, you might picture thick layers of ice sheets.

Antarctica is in fact a desert; the coldest, windiest, driest and most isolated continent, with the South Pole located 10,500 km from Malaysia.

It is these highly reflective surfaces of ice sheets that play a large role in regulating global climate by reflecting 80 per cent of incoming solar radiation back to space.

Global warming that resulted in the rise of Earth’s temperature would melt these ice sheets.

This melting in turn indicates climatic changes taking place and is expected to escalate, eventually arriving at our shores when the seasonal droughts and floods are exacerbated.

Malaysia is one of the 195 countries that have adopted the first-ever universal, legally binding global climate deal through the Paris Climate Conference (COP21) under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

This is an ambitious endeavour and only achievable by leveraging on scientific networks and through science diplomacy.

This brings us to an international function I attended last week – the prestigious 34th Scientific Committee on Antarctica Research (SCAR) Biennial Meetings including the 2016 Open Science Conference.

Being a relatively new player in Antarctic research, Malaysia is honored to have hosted close to 1,000 delegates that flew in from a whopping 43 countries, attracting leading Antarctic researchers and policy makers across the globe to exchange knowledge and insights.

Our scientists took this unique opportunity to showcase their work and put Malaysia on the scientific world map.

Malaysia’s journey in Antarctic research dated back to 1983. That year, during the United Nations General Assembly, together with Antigua, we tabled the “Question of Antarctica” which advocated the need of making Antarctic continent as a common heritage for humankind.

Interestingly, this petition was submitted at a time where scientific explorations were not common, and you may wonder about the relevance of Antarctic to Malaysia.

To understand why we conduct Antarctic-related research, we need to know a little more about the science bit.

As a consequence of climate change, the melting of Antarctic ice would also disrupt global ocean circulation, subsequently interfering the channeling of nutrient-rich cold “deep” water from the Antarctic to the tropics.

Excessive freshwater from the melting ice would make the ocean more acidic and cause a rise in sea levels.

Regions with substantial coastal populations in Malaysia would be impacted, especially the fishing and farming activities.

The icy landscape of Antarctica may seem distant but scientific research in this continent could yield significant insights on changes relevant to the entire Earth.

It is more than thick layers of ice sheets. “An archive of living things” as it is often described as, the ice and sediment records hold clues to the Earth’s history, and its living organisms hold genetic secrets to surviving in extreme conditions.

Recognising the importance of understanding the environmental impact and biodiversity of Antarctica, the government approved the setting up of the Malaysian Antarctic research prorgamme in 1997.

A taskforce under the Academy of Sciences Malaysia was established to coordinate Malaysia’s research activities in the Antarctic.

Within two years, the first Malaysian scientific expedition was organised for four scientists to visit Scott Base under New Zealand Antarctic Programme, followed by the establishment of the National Antarctic Research Center in 2002.

The research programme had since then successfully coordinated more than 60 Antarctic expeditions, collaborating with strategic counterparts from Argentina, Australia, Chile, Ecuador, India, South Korea, South Africa, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

We produced various polar scientists with expertise in polar terrestrial and marine microbiology, geographic information system, meteorology and Antarctic policy.

MOSTI had been supportive by dedicating about RM25 million for Antarctic research since the Eighth Malaysia Plan in 2001.

Acknowledging that Malaysia had an active research programme and a friendly network with other national programmes, we were invited as “observer” in the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting in 2002. In 2011, Malaysia finally acceded to the Antarctic Treaty System as a non-consultative party.

To sustain Malaysia’s presence in Antarctica, Sultan Mizan Antarctic Research Foundation or the Yayasan Penyelidikan Antartika Sultan Mizan (YPASM) was established under the patronage of His Royal Highness the Sultan of Terengganu, Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin.

The foundation had since then provided various supports to the Malaysian Antarctic Research Programme in the forms of research grants, fellowships, and facilitating with the complex logistical arrangements for the expeditions.

YPASAM is under the purview of MOSTI and to further pursue Malaysia’s stance and direction in Antarctic research, governance and conservation, we have taken a leading role in providing the policy framework including the preparation of Antarctic Act and Polar Roadmap.

During my opening address at the conference, I announced Malaysia’s accession to the Madrid Protocol, signifying the country’s commitment to the protection of Antarctic ecosystem and biodiversity.

The protocol, which was adopted in 1991, designates Antarctica as a natural reserve devoted to peace and science.

While the contribution of Malaysia to Antarctic governance and protection at the moment might be small in comparison to the historically prominent SCAR nations, I see the accession of Malaysia to Antarctic Treaty System and Madrid protocol as a positive start of a truly global effort for the protection of Antarctica, one of the last great wilderness.

Indeed, as “success is the sum of small efforts”, I hope that Malaysia’s achievements as a proactive global player in science would inspire more nations to join the wagon, and ensure a bright future of Antarctic ecosystems for many generations to come.

I quote Carlos Moedas, the European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation who said in 2015, “science diplomacy is the torch that can light the way, the torch that brightens a doorway to cooperation and communication that is never closed.”

I am heartened to observe that Malaysia is playing a proactive role in science diplomacy. For if conventional diplomacy disappoints, we still could count on science diplomacy.


Malaysia di Peta Dunia dalam Diplomasi Sains

Jika anda diminta membayangkan Antartika, anda mungkin menggambarkan lapisan lembar ais yang tebal.

Antartika sebenarnya sebuah gurun; benua paling sejuk, paling berangin, paling kering dan paling terpencil, dengan Kutub Selatan terletak 10,500 kilometer dari Malaysia.

Lembar ais yang kuat memantulkan cahaya itulah yang memainkan peranan besar dalam mengawal iklim dunia dengan memantulkan 80 peratus daripada sinaran suria yang masuk, balik ke angkasa lepas.

Pemanasan global yang menyebabkan kenaikan suhu Bumi akan mencairkan lembar ais itu.

Pencairan ini pula menandakan perubahan iklim sedang berlaku dan dijangka semakin serius, akhirnya mengenai negara kita dengan ketibaan musim kemarau dan musim banjir yang bertambah buruk.

Malaysia adalah antara 195 negara yang menerima pakai perjanjian iklim global pertama yang universal dan mengikat di sisi undang-undang menerusi Persidangan Iklim Paris (COP21) di bawah Konvensyen Kerangka Pertubuhan Bangsa-Bangsa Bersatu mengenai Perubahan Iklim.

Matlamat perjanjian itu sangat besar dan hanya boleh dicapai dengan menggunakan rangkaian saintifik dan menerusi diplomasi sains.

Ini membawa kita kepada acara antarabangsa berprestij yang saya hadiri minggu lepas – Mesyuarat Dwitahunan Jawatankuasa Saintifik mengenai Penyelidikan Antartika (SCAR) ke-34 termasuk Persidangan Sains Terbuka 2016.

Sebagai negara yang agak baru terlibat dalam penyelidikan Antartika, Malaysia diberi penghormatan untuk menjadi tuan rumah kepada hampir 1,000 anggota perwakilan dari 43 negara, yang menarik pembuat dasar dan penyelidik Antartika terkemuka dari serata dunia untuk bertukar ilmu dan pandangan.

Ahli sains kita mengambil peluang unik ini untuk memperlihatkan hasil kerja mereka dan meletakkan Malaysia di peta sains dunia.

Perjalanan Malaysia dalam penyelidikan Antartika bermula pada 1983. Semasa Perhimpunan Agung Pertubuhan Bangsa-Bangsa Bersatu pada tahun itu, Malaysia bersama-sama Antigua membentangkan kertas “Persoalan Antartika” yang mencadangkan keperluan benua Antartika dijadikan warisan bersama untuk umat manusia.

Menariknya, petisyen ini dikemukakan ketika penjelajahan saintifik bukanlah perkara biasa, dan anda mungkin tertanya-tanya tentang relevannya Antartika dengan Malaysia.

Bagi memahami sebab kita menjalankan penyelidikan berkaitan Antartika, kita perlu mengetahui aspek sainsnya dengan lebih lanjut.

Akibat perubahan iklim, pencairan ais Antartika akan turut mengganggu peredaran lautan dunia, seterusnya menjejaskan penyaluran air “dalam” sejuk yang kaya dengan nutrien dari Antartika ke perairan tropika.

Air tawar berlebihan daripada ais yang cair akan menjadikan lautan lebih berasid dan menyebabkan kenaikan paras laut.

Negeri yang mempunyai ramai penduduk di kawasan pantai di Malaysia akan terjejas, terutamanya kegiatan penangkapan ikan dan pertanian.

Landskap Antartika yang dilitupi ais mungkin terasa jauh tetapi penyelidikan saintifik di benua itu boleh menghasilkan kefahaman penting tentang perubahan yang relevan dengan seluruh Bumi.

Antartika sama sekali bukan sekadar lembar ais yang tebal. Benua itu sering kali digambarkan sebagai “arkib hidupan”, rekod ais dan sedimennya menjadi kunci untuk memahami sejarah Bumi, dan organisma hidupnya menyimpan rahsia genetik tentang kehidupan dalam iklim ekstrem.

Menyedari pentingnya memahami impak alam sekitar dan biodiversiti Antartika, kerajaan meluluskan penyediaan program penyelidikan Antartika Malaysia pada 1997.

Sebuah pasukan petugas di bawah Akademi Sains Malaysia ditubuhkan untuk menyelaraskan aktiviti penyelidikan Malaysia di Antartika.

Dalam tempoh dua tahun, ekspedisi saintifik pertama Malaysia dianjurkan untuk empat ahli sains mengunjungi Scott Base yang terletak di bawah Program Antartika New Zealand, disusuli dengan penubuhan Pusat Penyelidikan Antartika Kebangsaan pada 2002.

Sejak itu, program penyelidikan berjaya menyelaraskan lebih daripada 60 ekspedisi Antartika, bekerjasama dengan rakan strategik dari Argentina, Australia, Chile, Ecuador, India, Korea Selatan, Afrika Selatan, New Zealand dan United Kingdom.

Kita menghasilkan pelbagai ahli sains kutub yang memiliki kepakaran dalam mikrobiologi darat dan marin kutub, sistem maklumat geografi, meteorologi dan dasar Antartika.

MOSTI memberi sokongan dengan memperuntukkan kira-kira RM25 juta untuk penyelidikan Antartika sejak Rancangan Malaysia Kelapan pada 2001.

Mengakui bahawa Malaysia mempunyai program penyelidikan aktif dan rangkaian yang menjalinkan hubungan baik dengan program negara lain, kita dijemput sebagai “pemerhati” dalam Mesyuarat Perundingan Perjanjian Antartika pada 2002. Pada 2011, Malaysia akhirnya menyertai Sistem Perjanjian Antartika sebagai ahli bukan perundingan.

Bagi mengekalkan kehadiran Malaysia di Antartika, Yayasan Penyelidikan Antartika Sultan Mizan (YPASM) ditubuhkan di bawah naungan Duli Yang Maha Mulia Sultan Terengganu, Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin.

Yayasan itu memberikan pelbagai sokongan kepada Program Penyelidikan Antartika Malaysia dalam bentuk bantuan penyelidikan, anugerah felo dan memudahkan urusan logistik yang rumit untuk ekspedisi.

YPASM terletak di bawah tanggungjawab MOSTI dan untuk memajukan lagi pendirian dan hala tuju Malaysia dalam penyelidikan, tadbir urus dan pemuliharaan Antartika, kami mengambil peranan utama dalam menyediakan kerangka dasar termasuk mempersiapkan Akta Antartika dan Pelan Hala Tuju Kutub.

Semasa ucapan pembukaan saya pada persidangan tersebut, saya mengumumkan penyertaan Malaysia dalam Protokol Madrid, sebagai menandakan komitmen negara ini terhadap perlindungan ekosistem dan biodiversiti Antartika.

Protokol yang diterima pakai pada 1991 itu menetapkan Antartika sebagai rizab alam untuk tujuan keamanan dan sains.

Sungguhpun Malaysia buat masa ini memberikan sumbangan kecil kepada tadbir urus dan perlindungan Antartika berbanding dengan negara SCAR yang menurut sejarahnya memainkan peranan utama, saya melihat penyertaan Malaysia dalam Sistem Perjanjian Antartika dan Protokol Madrid sebagai langkah positif dalam usaha yang benar-benar global bagi melindungi Antartika, antara kawasan gersang besar yang terakhir.

Memandangkan “kejayaan ialah hasil gabungan usaha kecil-kecilan”, saya berharap pencapaian Malaysia sebagai pemain global yang proaktif dalam bidang sains akan mendorong lebih banyak negara untuk menyertai usaha ini dan memastikan masa depan ekosistem Antartika yang cerah untuk generasi demi generasi akan datang.

Saya memetik kata-kata Pesuruhjaya Eropah bagi Penyelidikan, Sains dan Inovasi, Carlos Moedas pada 2015, “diplomasi sains ialah obor yang dapat menyuluh jalan, obor yang menerangi pintu kerjasama dan komunikasi yang tidak pernah tutup.”

Saya gembira melihat Malaysia memainkan peranan proaktif dalam diplomasi sains. Jika diplomasi konvensional mengecewakan, kita masih boleh bergantung harap pada diplomasi sains.

 

Design and branding for our future

Our country, Malaysia has grown in leaps and bounds moving up the economic ladder and value chain to be recognised as a country that is sought after from an investment and talent standpoint.

“Learning and innovation go hand in hand. The arrogance of success is to think that what you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow.”

This quote by physicist William Pollard (1911 – 1989) pretty much sums up the predicament the country is in today.

Starting our journey as a commodity-based economy, coupled with being a manufacturing hub or a part of the supply chain of many multinational companies in the last three decades, have been our success mantra.

However, with Vision 2020 barely four years away, the market dynamics have shifted and today we look beyond being a commodity-based or even a manufacturing hub that no longer serves our purpose for posterity.

Commodity is finite. China is now recognized as the manufacturing backyard to the world due to cheap labour and lower cost of production. This is our reality.

For one, according to our Statistics Department, in 2015 alone our total exports accounted to RM 779.95 billion, registering a slight increase over 2014. However, in 2015, our GDP growth dipped to 5 per cent from 6 per cent the year before.

What does this mean to our economy? And where does that leave Malaysia then?

While exports still hold the key to our country’s economic wellbeing, the composition of it has to keep up with changing times.

Looking at how the economics of production and distribution shift, along with consumers’ behavior and the birth of smart products, manufacturers turn to innovative ways of creating and captivating value.

From Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) that form part of the supply chain of large companies, where they supply parts to these large companies; companies then move to become Original Design Manufacturers (ODMs) where they design and at times, produce products for other companies; and lastly Original Brand Manufacturers (OBMs) are those who manufacture their own brand products.

This has basically been the path that many manufacturing companies have taken, moving from the OEM, ODM to the OBM opportunity.

Quoting the late Steve Jobs, “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.”

As we progressed from the OEM to the ODM and OBM stages, value-adding our products and even creating our own brands should be the way forward. With our very own Malaysian-made brands, we should capitalise on the opportunity of exporting these homegrown brands.

Designing and branding are vital components that can help companies propel to a whole new level, in addition to opening up new markets.

In line with the adoption of Blue Ocean Strategy by the government, this has been the mandate of the Malaysia Design Council or MRM ( http://www.mrm.gov.my) to assist companies “to produce Malaysian-made and innovative designed products that can compete at an international level,” and the council has been doing that in its signature program known as Malaysia Good Design Mark.

These efforts could expand the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the services and manufacturing sector in the area of design and branding. We need to take stock and be more confident producing and promoting Malaysian-designed and Malaysian-made products.

To pursue this, the Ministry, MRM, and its many agencies have been encouraging, promoting and enabling companies to head in this direction. For instance, companies that provide industrial design services are eligible to apply for a 70% tax exemption on their statutory income for a period of five years. To enjoy this, companies are required to register with MRM for evaluation. MRM will grant successful companies with a certification to support their application to the Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA).

Having identified the competitive advantage that design and branding can bring to products, we cannot emphasise enough on the need for companies to embrace this as a mean to further their market reach in the highly competitive global marketplace.

Creativity and innovation are the way forward. Look at Indonesia for instance – in 2008 alone, the creative industry has contributed 7 per cent to its GDP, amounting to US$ 8.7 billion with 4.5 million workers, covering 1.5 million companies.

Such is the potential of the creative industry to the overall economy of Indonesia. The same can be emulated in our country too.

Another point of contention that we have is the perception of Malaysians and international brands.

We tend to favour foreign designs, designers and brands over than local ones. But we have also seen success and staunch following in some of our local brands. Look at our very own Malaysian designers Jimmy Choo and Zang Toi – they made it big overseas before being embraced at home. We can only be optimistic about our creative industry.

The Ministry believes it is time we give emphasis on design. Many of us do not realise that every day we are surrounded with material things, items and activities that incorporate design.

Our industries have to shift their focus on the downstream activities that provide a market appeal, value-added products or services. This is where design and branding play an important role, as it provides consumers a preferred choice in a competitive market place.

So taking a page from Steve Job’s philosophy, let us all be leaders than followers by differentiating ourselves with design and branding.

 

Seizing the benefits of digital Economy

On the invitation of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), I participated in the 2016 Ministerial Meeting on the Digital Economy: Innovation, Growth and Social Prosperity in Cancun, Mexico, last week on behalf of Malaysia.

As digital technologies percolates through the world economy, and the cost of data collecting, storage and analysing declines, the flow of data within and across borders has been at an unprecedented pace and volume with significant repercussions on innovation, international trade and value chains, and the society as a whole.

The digitalisation of economy promises to induce innovation, raise productivity and improve services in various areas, from public safety to agriculture, transportation, healthcare, public service, trade, education, fiscal activities and the environment. It also can be disruptive by transforming organisations’structures and processes, and results in new business models.

However, as individuals, firms and countries have varying access and application of digital technologies, the impact of digitalisation is not uniform.

To ensure that the digital economy is not restricted to only a few technology-intensive industries that recruit professionals and limit its share of GDP, Ministers from OECD countries gathered to discuss four key policy areas in moving the digital agenda forward at the meeting: internet openness, digital trust, global connectivity, and jobs and skills.

In a panel session on “Tomorrow’s Internet of Things” related to the theme of global connectivitychaired by my Korean counterpart Minister of Science, ICT and Future Planning, Mr. Yanghee Choi, I spoke on the most promising opportunities for the Internet of Things (IoT).

Enterprises can leverage on IoT for operational efficiency, optimization of resources and increase in productivity. At the other end of the supply chain, end users are empowered with comprehensive information to enhance their user experience, allowing greater affordability and personalised services.

Healthcare services for example, were diagnosis oriented. The advent of IoT technologies such as wearable devices, centralized data collection and analytics; mobile health monitoring applications, had shifted the focus to prevention of diseases and promotion of wellness.

Another topic I elaborated on was how stakeholders can develop the interoperability of standards, approaches and policies for the Internet of Things. Interoperability describes the degree to which systems and devices can exchange information, and present the data such that it is comprehensible by the user.

Automated devices independent of human’s control need to connect to networks and work with other devices in transport and application protocols, security and shared data.

Standard-developing organisations around the world have contributed tremendously to standardise protocols to simplify implementation and reduce cost of IoT technologies, resulting in novel or new combination of protocols.

Malaysia is in the midst of implementing a National Internet of Things Strategic Roadmap, in which we have identified interoperability as one of the critical areas to spur IoT in the country.

To position Malaysia as the Premier Regional IoT Development Hub, MIMOS Berhad, an agency under the purview of my ministry, has established the Open Innovation Framework to develop the interoperability of standards.

It is not a standardization initiative but rather a framework to harmonise IoT technologies, enabling multiple systems to interoperate.

We are proud to acknowledge that Malaysia is one of the few countries in the world to recognise the potential of IoT and one of only nine countries globally to have developed a working roadmap on IoT. Other countries include China, India, Korea, Singapore, the United Kingdom, United States, Germany and Finland.

Through this roadmap we have determined that the IoTmarket potential in Malaysia is set to generate a GNI of RM 9.5 billion by 2020 and achieve RM 42.5 billion by 2025. Our immediate action plan is to first establish the governance for IoT, build IoT communities and set up technology accelerators.

As IoT technologies mature in our country, we hope to profile industries, expanding our services to ASEAN markets and ultimately introduce top five Malaysian IoT companies to the international arena.

The new economy as I see it, will be a digital one, and Malaysia has to adapt fast to seize the benefits of digitalization, by ensuring the widespread benefits of the digital economy and addressing the digital gap in our society such as increasing Internet accessibility.

 

Cryptography: Guardians of Our Digital World / Kriptografi: Penjaga Dunia Digital Kita

Jump to the Malay version

End of last month, I had the opportunity to officiate at the Fifth International Cryptology and Information Security Conference here in Kota Kinabalu City that saw Sabah playing host to the international cryptology fraternity where delegates shared and learnt about the latest industrial development in cryptology.

Prior to that event, cryptology was alien to me and after getting the briefing from top officers of Cybersecurity Malaysia, an agency under MOSTI did I managed to grasp hold the concept.

Encryption is the process of encoding messages or information in such a way that only authorised parties can read it.

Without encryption, secure transfer protocols would not exist and this may result in hundreds of millions of online consumers’ financial, health, and personal information exposed to eavesdropping and theft.

Whilst cryptology is a method that enables the transmission of messages in complete secrecy and security.

But this is not something new since the technique to encode sensitive information to prevent enemy or unauthorised access dates back to as early as the ancient Greek.

By today’s standard those were fairly simply codes as encryption has since become more complex.

During World War Two, the Allied forces’ ability to break the codes of enemy encrypted messages was key to its success.

Perhaps the most important codebreaking event of the war was the successful decryption by the Allies of the German “Enigma” Chiper, which allowed important parts of German radio traffic on critical networks to be read by the Allies.

It was by no means an easy task as it took a team of brilliant engineers, mathematicians and scientists to crack the intercepted encrypted messages.

This brought my attention to the significance of cryptography in spurring the digital economy. Nations of the world are facing a common challenge — to safeguard confidential, sensitive data from savvy cyber-criminals and malicious insiders.

Cryptography: Dangers of Living without It In today’s fast developing digital economy, there are ever-present risks of theft, leaks and damage to the wealth of valuable digital data that is being transmitted or stored.

Eliminating threats is almost impossible. Digital information must therefore be protected and this is achievable only through encryption technology.

Cryptography offers confidentiality and user authentication to prevent theft or tampering of data integrity.

We are already applying cryptography for a secure internet communication using https, ATM cards and e-commerce including online banking and payment.

An emerging Digital Economy invention which is premised on cryptography is Bitcoin -the crypto-currency of the digital world.

Invented in 2008, Bitcoin is at its core a cryptographic protocol. The protocol creates unique pieces of digital property that can be transferred from one person to another. Each Bitcoin is defined by a public address and a private key, each a unique digital fingerprint.

Bitcoin exchanges however are often the target of hackers. Over the course of the years, vast sums of money have fallen into the wrong hands, most of which attributed to a lack in security.

One such example is the prominent Japan-based Bitcoin exchange company Mt. Gox which collapsed partly due to massive hacking.

Therefore, security is the critical in Bitcoin — without proper security measures in place, digital wealth could get stolen or vanish. Bitcoin Core developers enable a feature inside the Bitcoin client that lets one encrypt the wallet by protecting it with a passphrase.

The introduction of Whatsapp that provides a platform for users of smartphones regardless of its operating system to communicate with each other through an instant messaging application have resulted in millions of information being exchanged in cyber space.

As of February 2016, WhatsApp has over 1 billion users globally. In the wake of mounting threats posed by hackers and cyber criminals, WhatsApp has introduced end-to-end encryption features in its latest version of the app.

With this method, messages are scrambled as they leave the sender’s device and can only be decrypted by the recipient’s device. It renders messages unreadable if they are intercepted by criminals or even law enforcement authorities.

But even with encryption, there still remain real risks especially from malicious insiders or systems infected by malware.

These could very much disrupt businesses and even national security. In the corporate sector, stolen sensitive financial data, intellectual property and confidential customer information can lead to competitive loss, brand damage or even lawsuits from clients.

Cyber Security Malaysia’s Key Role To deal with these serious threats and challenges in the area of cryptography in Malaysia, CyberSecurity Malaysia has taken on a critical role to safeguard the country’s digital economy and digital communication.

It focuses on research and development, coordination and publicity and education and training.

The Cryptography Development Department in CyberSecurity Malaysia conducts research and development in various aspects of cryptography and related fields such as cryptographic algorithm, key management, cryptanalysis and applied cryptography including cryptography module evaluation and cryptography algorithm conformance test.

Just last month, CyberSecurity Malaysia launched a new CSM Randomness Testing Tool (CRTT) that evaluates randomness properties used for cryptography purpose.

The Strategic Policy Research produces high quality research and policy papers in information security which has been used as source of reference for various stakeholders to make well-informed decisions.

In view of the importance of cryptography in national cyber security, National Cryptography Policy or Dasar Kriptografi Negara was established under the purview of National Security Council.

National Cryptography Policy which is part of the National Cyber Security Policy (NCSP) sets out strategic approach on the use of cryptography, production of cryptography products and research and development to protect the government and its agencies.

It has seven strategic thrusts that focus on the aspect of competency and self-reliant in cryptography towards ensuring the protection of national security, citizens’ privacy and safety; and making cryptography industry as a contributor to the nation’s wealth creation.

To educate the public about cryptography and the need to protect digital information, CyberSecurity Malaysia continues to publicise the importance of encrypting digital data to all major industry sectors across the country including co-organising a number of events with public universities.

CyberSecurity Malaysia has also developed a nationwide programme with the Ministry of Education (MOE) known as CyberSAFE in Schools to inculcate cyber security and Internet safety culture among students in Malaysia.

One of its activities is the annual National ICT Security Discourse (NICTSeD), a national-level debate competitionbetween schools to encourage students to apply creative and critical thinking on Internet-related security issues.

Shortage of skilled cryptographers in Malaysia In a world of ever-present cyber-attacks, Malaysia, however seriously need more cyber security experts to help build a resilient and robust cryptography solution.

Cryptography must be home-grown and we must avoid using foreign products and technology.

The 11th Malaysia Plan emphasises the need for the country to acquire its own capabilities in cryptography to protect online information, hence reducing reliance on foreign solutions.

As such, CyberSecurity Malaysia continues to encourage more local undergraduates to consider taking up the profession of cryptology.

Cryptology is now emerging as a major academic subject involving a multidisciplinary approach that includes mathematics, statistics, engineering and computer science.

Among the training courses offered by CyberSecurity Malaysia include Data Encryption, Introduction to Cryptography, and Cryptography for Information Security Professionals.

Incidentally, cryptology became particularly popular following the publication of Dan Brown’s novel The Da Vinci Code and later released as a movie.

As education institutions including universities begin to engage in cryptology research, they will require a large number of cryptographers and cryptanalyst. Already, there is a high demand for qualified cryptologists in government agencies and the corporate sector following the wide use of Internet and e-commerce.

To seize the opportunities of digitalisation for economic growth and societal well-being, we have to reinforce end users’ trust in the Internet.

Now more than ever, the health of the Internet ecosystem depends on the proliferation of strong encryptions.

We must therefore encourage more Malaysian organisations to embrace the practice of encrypting its digital data and raise our cryptography technology to world standards to further enhance cyber security in this country.

Malaysia will then certainly emerge as a vibrant and trusted hub in the global digital economy.


 

Kriptografi: Penjaga Dunia Digital Kita

Pada lewat Mei lalu, saya mempengerusikan Persidangan Kriptologi dan Keselamatan Maklumat Antarabangsa Ke-5 di Bandar Raya Kota Kinabalu, yang menyaksikan Sabah menjadi tuan rumah kepada warga kriptologi antarabangsa dengan para delegasi berkongsi dan mengikuti perkembangan terbaharu industri dalam bidang kriptologi.

Sebelum persidangan itu, kriptologi begitu asing bagi saya. Selepas diberi taklimat oleh para pegawai CyberSecurity Malaysia, iaitu sebuah agensi di bawah MOSTI yang menganjurkan persidangan tersebut, barulah saya dapat memahami konsepnya.

Kita perlu terlebih dahulu memahami konsep penyulitan (encryption). Penyulitan ialah proses pengekodan mesej atau maklumat dengan begitu rupa supaya hanya pihak yang mendapat kebenaran dapat membacanya.

Tanpa penyulitan, protokol pemindahan yang selamat tidak akan wujud dan ini boleh menyebabkan maklumat kewangan, kesihatan dan peribadi milik ratusan juta pengguna Internet terdedah kepada bahaya dipintas dan dicuri.

Kriptologi ialah kaedah yang membolehkan penghantaran mesej dilakukan dengan penuh rahsia dan selamat.

Bagaimanapun, bidang ini bukan sesuatu yang baharu kerana teknik untuk mengekod maklumat sensitif bagi mencegah akses kepada musuh atau pihak yang tidak mendapat kebenaran telah wujud seawal zaman Yunani purba.

Teknik zaman itu hanyalah kod mudah yang melambangkan huruf biasa. Penyulitan sudah menjadi lebih rumit sejak itu.

Semasa Perang Dunia Kedua, keupayaan tentera Pihak Berikat untuk memecahkan kod yang terkandung dalam mesej sulit musuh menjadi kunci kemenangan mereka.

Barangkali peristiwa pemecahan kod paling penting semasa perang tersebut ialah kejayaan Pihak Berikat menyahsulitkan Tulisan Rahsia “Enigma” Jerman sehingga membolehkan beberapa bahagian penting perhubungan radio Jerman di rangkaian kritikal dibaca oleh Pihak Berikat.

Tugas itu bukanlah mudah kerana sepasukan jurutera, pakar matematik dan ahli sains pintar diperlukan untuk mentafsirkan mesej sulit yang dipintas.

Perkara ini menarik perhatian saya kepada pentingnya kriptografi dalam memacu ekonomi digital. Negara di seluruh dunia menghadapi cabaran yang sama, untuk melindungi data rahsia dan sensitif daripada penjenayah siber yang licik dan orang dalam yang berniat jahat.

Kriptografi: Bahaya Kehidupan Tanpanya

Dalam ekonomi digital yang berkembang pesat pada masa kini, kita sentiasa menghadapi risiko berlakunya kecurian, kebocoran dan kerosakan kepada begitu banyak data digital berharga yang dihantar atau disimpan.

Menghapuskan ancaman hampir mustahil. Oleh sebab itu maklumat digital perlu dilindungi dan perlindungan ini boleh dicapai hanya menerusi teknologi penyulitan.

Kriptografi membolehkan kerahsiaan dan pengesahan pengguna bagi mencegah kecurian atau pencemaran integriti data.

Kita sudah pun menggunakan kriptografi untuk komunikasi Internet yang selamat dengan menggunakan https, untuk kad ATM dan e-dagang seperti perbankan Internet dan pembayaran menerusi Internet.

Satu ciptaan Ekonomi Digital yang memuncul dan berlandaskan kriptografi ialah Bitcoin, iaitu mata wang kriptografi di dunia digital.

Dicipta pada 2008, Bitcoin berteraskan protokol kriptografi. Protokol ini mewujudkan bahagian harta digital yang unik dan boleh dipindahkan daripada seseorang kepada orang lain. Setiap Bitcoin ditentukan oleh satu alamat awam dan satu kunci persendirian, setiap satunya merupakan cap jari digital yang unik.

Namun begitu, pertukaran Bitcoin sering menjadi sasaran penggodam. Sejak beberapa tahun lalu, sejumlah besar wang telah jatuh ke tangan pihak tidak bertanggungjawab, kebanyakannya dianggap berpunca daripada kelemahan langkah keselamatan.

Satu kes seumpama itu ialah syarikat pertukaran Bitcoin terkemuka yang berpangkalan di Jepun, Mt. Gox yang runtuh sebahagiannya disebabkan penggodaman besar-besaran.

Oleh yang demikian, keselamatan sangat penting bagi Bitcoin, kerana tanpa langkah keselamatan sewajarnya, kekayaan digital boleh dicuri atau “lesap”. Kini ada ciri dalam Bitcoin yang membolehkan pengguna menyulitkan dompet dengan melindunginya dengan ungkapan laluan.

Satu lagi platform yang lebih biasa kita gunakan ialah WhatsApp.

Sehingga Februari 2016, WhatsApp mempunyai lebih daripada satu bilion pengguna di seluruh dunia. Ekoran ancaman makin meningkat daripada penggodam dan penjenayah siber lain, WhatsApp telah memperkenalkan penyulitan hujung ke hujung dalam versi terbaharu aplikasi itu.

Dengan kaedah ini, mesej dicampuradukkan ketika meninggalkan peranti pengirim dan hanya dapat dinyahsulitkan oleh peranti penerima. Ini menjadikan mesej tidak dapat dibaca sekiranya dipintas oleh penjenayah atau malahan pihak berkuasa undang-undang.

Namun begitu dengan penyulitan pun, masih wujud risiko besar terutamanya daripada orang dalam yang berniat jahat atau sistem yang dijangkiti perisian hasad (malware).

Ancaman tersebut boleh menggendalakan perniagaan dan malah menjejaskan keselamatan negara. Dalam sektor korporat, kecurian data kewangan sensitif, harta intelek dan maklumat sulit pelanggan boleh mengakibatkan kehilangan daya saing, kerosakan jenama, bahkan tindakan undang-undang daripada pelanggan.

Peranan Utama CyberSecurity Malaysia

Bagi menangani ancaman dan cabaran serius dalam bidang kriptografi di Malaysia, CyberSecurity Malaysia memainkan peranan kritikal untuk melindungi ekonomi digital dan komunikasi digital di negara ini.

Agensi itu memberi fokus terhadap penyelidikan dan pembangunan, penyelarasan dan publisiti serta pendidikan dan latihan.

Jabatan Pembangunan Kriptografi di CyberSecurity Malaysia menjalankan penyelidikan dan pembangunan dalam pelbagai aspek kriptografi dan bidang berkaitan seperti algoritma kriptografi, pengurusan kunci, kriptanalisis dan kriptografi gunaan termasuk penilaian modul kriptografi dan ujian pematuhan algoritma kriptografi.

Memandangkan pentingnya kriptografi dalam keselamatan siber negara, Dasar Kriptografi Negara diadakan di bawah bidang kuasa Majlis Keselamatan Negara.

Dasar Kriptografi Negara yang merupakan sebahagian Dasar Keselamatan Siber Negara (NCSP) membentangkan pendekatan strategik terhadap penggunaan kriptografi, pengeluaran produk kriptografi serta penyelidikan dan pembangunan untuk melindungi kerajaan dan agensinya.

Dasar itu mengandungi tujuh teras strategik yang tertumpu pada aspek kecekapan dan kebergantungan pada diri sendiri dalam kriptografi ke arah memastikan perlindungan keselamatan negara, privasi dan keselamatan rakyat; dan menjadikan industri kriptografi sebagai penyumbang kepada penjanaan kekayaan negara.

Bagi mendidik orang ramai tentang kriptografi dan keperluan untuk melindungi maklumat digital, CyberSecurity Malaysia terus memberi publisiti tentang pentingnya penyulitan data digital kepada semua sektor industri utama di seluruh negara termasuk menganjurkan beberapa acara bersama dengan universiti awam.

CyberSecurity Malaysia juga membangunkan program di seluruh negara dengan kerjasama Kementerian Pendidikan, dikenal sebagai CyberSAFE in Schools untuk menyemai budaya keselamatan siber dan Internet dalam kalangan pelajar di Malaysia.

Antara aktiviti program itu ialah Wacana Keselamatan ICT Kebangsaan (NICTSeD), iaitu pertandingan debat peringkat kebangsaan yang diadakan setiap tahun antara sekolah untuk menggalakkan pelajar menggunakan pemikiran kreatif dan kritis tentang isu keselamatan berkaitan Internet.

Kekurangan ahli kriptografi mahir di Malaysia

Di dunia yang sentiasa diancam serangan siber, Malaysia amat memerlukan lebih banyak pakar keselamatan siber untuk membantu membina sistem kriptografi yang berdaya tahan dan kukuh.

Kriptografi perlu dibangunkan oleh tenaga tempatan dan kita perlu mengelak daripada menggunakan produk dan teknologi asing.

Rancangan Malaysia Kesebelas menekankan keperluan untuk negara memperoleh keupayaan sendiri dalam kriptografi bagi melindungi maklumat dalam talian, dengan itu mengurangkan kebergantungan pada penyelesaian asing.

CyberSecurity Malaysia terus menggalakkan lebih ramai mahasiswa dan mahasiswi tempatan supaya mempertimbangkan kriptologi sebagai profesion mereka.

Kriptologi kini sedang muncul sebagai subjek akademik utama yang melibatkan pendekatan berbilang disiplin yang termasuk matematik, statistik, kejuruteraan dan sains komputer.

Antara kursus latihan yang ditawarkan oleh CyberSecurity Malaysia termasuk Penyulitan Data, Pengenalan kepada Kriptografi, dan Kriptografi untuk Golongan Profesional Keselamatan Maklumat.

Secara kebetulan, kriptologi menjadi begitu popular berikutan penerbitan novel Dan Brown, The Da Vinci Code yang kemudiannya difilemkan.

Apabila institusi pendidikan termasuk universiti mula terlibat dalam penyelidikan kriptologi, mereka akan memerlukan sejumlah besar ahli kriptologi dan pakar kriptanalisis.

Kini permintaan tinggi sudah pun wujud untuk ahli kriptologi dalam agensi kerajaan dan sektor korporat berikutan penggunaan Internet dan e-dagang yang meluas.

Bagi merebut peluang pendigitalan untuk mencapai pertumbuhan ekonomi dan kesejahteraan masyarakat, kita perlu mengukuhkan kepercayaan pengguna akhir terhadap Internet.

Kini kesihatan ekosistem Internet semakin banyak bergantung pada percambahan penyulitan kukuh.

Oleh sebab itu, kita perlu menggalakkan lebih banyak organisasi Malaysia supaya mendukung amalan penyulitan data digital masing-masing dan meningkatkan teknologi kriptografi kita kepada taraf dunia bagi mengukuhkan lagi keselamatan siber di negara ini.

Dengan itu Malaysia pasti akan muncul sebagai hab yang aktif dan dipercayai dalam ekonomi digital dunia.

Official trip to Mexico: OECD Ministerial Meeting on Digital Economy

The OECD Ministerial Meeting on Digital Economy had concluded yesterday. Ministers and stakeholders from both OECD and non-OECD countries gathered to discuss how we could upgrade the skills and jobs in the labour market to maximize the impact of Digital Economy, increase internet access to ensure inclusion, reviewing policies that facilitate innovation and that sustain productivity.

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I was invited to speak on a panel on “Tomorrow’s Internet of Things”.
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Lunch meeting with Dr Elias Micha Zaga (third from right), Coordinator of STI in the Mexican President’s Office, and Mr. Guillermo Fernandez (fourth) and Ivan Zavala (sixth) from U.S.-Mexico Foundation for Science. 
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Closed session for Ministers.

Internet of Things (IoT) may soon be a commonplace with a predicted 50 billion devices connected to the Internet by 2020. Malaysia recognizes the opportunities in IoT technology and is one of nine countries in the world to have developed a “National Internet of Things Strategic Roadmap”.

Malaysia has launched several pilot initiatives deploying IoT in the areas of Public Safety, Communities, Agriculture, Transport, Manufacturing and Healthcare Services.

However to fully seize the benefits Digital Economy, we need to first raise awareness about its economic potential and reinforce end users’ trust in the Internet.

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Pictures caption:

Top: At the Ministerial gala dinner, where I had a very good discussion with the Mexican Secretary of Communications and Transport Mr Gerardo Ruiz Esparza.
Bottom left: With Canadian Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, Mr Navdeep Singh Bains.
Bottom right: Greeted the Indonesian Minister of Communication and IT, Mr Rudiantara.

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Presenting a Malaysian souvenir to the host, Mexican Secretary of Economy, Mr. Ildefonso Guajardo Villarreal at the outset of the OECD Ministerial Meeting. We thanked them for their warm hospitality here in Cancun, Mexico.

 

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Wishing my friend Victor, Secretary of State for Telecommunication and Information Society, Spain , in his bid to be reelected on Monday 27th June.