Investment opportunities in the Bioeconomy/ Peluang Pelaburan dalam Bioekonomi

Klik sini untuk versi Bahasa Malaysia: 21.3.18 Peluang Pelaburan Dalam Bioekonomi

The Sabah Development Corridor (SDC) has just celebrated its 10th anniversary. Launched in 2008, Chief Minister Tan Sri Musa Aman announced that this project has recorded RM 165 billion in cumulative investment as of January this year. He also said that Sabah has already achieved its target for GDP and GDP per capita back in 2016 under the SDC, at RM 63.2 billion and RM 14,784 respectively.


Sabah’s GDP growth was at 4.7 per cent in 2016 compared to the national average of 4.2 per cent, in contrast with only 2.1 per cent growth in 2011 as compared to a 5.3 per cent national GDP growth. Poverty incidences have declined from a whopping 19.7 per cent in 2009 to just 2.9 per cent in 2016. SDC’s 2008 – 2025 blueprint has also actualised almost 600,000 jobs out of the targeted 900,000 by the end of its 18-year implementation.


Some of the priority investment areas for the SDC are in tourism, creativity, agro-industry, palm oil downstream activities, oil and gas, education and marine products.


Perhaps in the remaining eight years, Sabah and the country could explore great investment opportunities in the bioeconomy.

At the 10th anniversary of SDC. Photo by Rayner.
At the 10th anniversary of SDC. Photo by Rayner.

Bioeconomy refers to all economic activities that result from the commercial application of biotechnology. To evaluate this industry in the country, BioEconomy Corporation, an agency tasked to drive this field through the National Biotechnology Policy, has devised the Bioeconomy Contribution Index, which considers five components – bioeconomy value-added, bio-based exports, invesments, employment and productivity in the industry.


A very encouraging achievement is its value-added that contributed RM 141.8 billion to our economy or 11.5 per cent of GDP. RM 18.8 billion of investments in the bioeconomy was recorded, reflecting a 11.8 per cent growth from the previous year.


I have observed several areas of high potential bioeconomy investment areas. One promising area is the production of bioplastics. Bioplastics are bio-based materials, meant to be environmentally sustainable by being derived from renewable biomass sources such as vegetable oil or starch, instead of fossil fuels.


Plastics usage has been increasingly setting off alarm bells due to the harm plastic wastes pose to the environment, marine lives and eventually to ourselves. At the landfill, fossil fuel plastics would release toxic chemicals to the soil as it breaks down. Bioplastics is supposed to decompose naturally and cause less harm to the environment.


Due to this concern, I have initiated an Innovators Dynamic roundtable late last year to identify how technology can help expedite the application of bioplastics. BioEconomy Corp is facilitating industry players to adopt bioplastics technologies to produce bio-based and biodegradable materials.


SIRIM also offers certification for environmentally-friendly products to businesses. Under the SIRIM Eco-Labeling Certification Scheme (SIRIM ECO 001:2016 for Degradable and Compostable plastic packaging materials, and SIRIM ECO 009:2016 for Biomass based products for food-contact applications as the standard for the implementation of bioplastic and biodegradable initiatives), a number of conventional plastic companies had successfully adopted bioplastics technologies and have their products certified.


An interesting proposal I have heard of is using crude palm oil to produce polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA). PHA is a type of polymer that would be produced when mircoorganisms ferment sugar or vegetable oils, in this case, palm oil. Current economic focus of the palm oil industry is in its downstream value-add, such as oleochemicals, biofuel and transfree food products. Could its potential of producing biodegradable plastics be even higher value-add?



Another promising industry in bioeconomy is in biopharmaceuticals. One form of biopharmaceuticals is biologics, of which production active substances are from a biological source, for example proteins. Biosimilars, on the other hand, are highly similar to their reference biologics thus avoid having to repeat clinical trials unnecessarily and used only after the biologic’s patent has expired.



The value of the global biopharmaceutical market reached approximately USD 230 billion in 2014 and is expected to grow to nearly USD 390 billion by the end of 2019. Of this biosimilars accounted for nearly USD 2 billion in 2014, and that number is predicted to double by the end of 2019, growing at a compound annual growth rate (the mean annual growth rate of an investment over a period) of 15%. By 2020, the patents for biologic medicines with an estimated worth of USD 81 billion are expected to expire, paving the way for the next generation of biosimilars.


Malaysia was one of the earliest countries to develop the biosimilars guideline and supports the development of the biosimilars ecosystem. However, it is still at the very nascent phase of developing its own biosimilars industry. We need to attract more global biotech companies to strengthen Malaysia’s position as a biomedical hub in the region. From the regulatory perspective, Malaysia has amended its regulatory guidelines mainly in accordance with the European Medicines Agency.


Malaysia can certainly leverage and tap into the abundance of biological resources and to have a more significant share of the regional and global wellness market. With over 15,000 estimated known plant species and over 2,000 species with medicinal values, plant or herbal produce provided the starting raw materials for many perfumery, cosmeceuticals, nutraceuticals and health supplement products. With the cultivation of high value crops, for instance high value herbs and bio-aromatic plants such as lavender, rosemary, Japanese horseradish, Goji berry, and Tongkat Ali etc, the wellness industry in Malaysia will demonstrate further growth in the coming years.


One novel discovery is our well-known local herb Tongkat Ali or scientifically known as Eurycoma longifolia. Apart from being traditional remedy for the treatment of malaria, high blood pressure, fevers, fatigue, loss of sexual desire, and impotence, Tongkat Ali is also useful in managing stress by reducing the level of the hormone Cortisol leading to greater energy, improved mood and psychological well-being.


The global wellness industry is now a market totaling USD3.4 trillion, according to the latest figure obtained from the Global Wellness Summit Industry Statistics and Facts 2014. This is approximately 3.4 times larger than the worldwide pharmaceutical industry! The beauty and anti-aging segment of the wellness industry was by far the largest with a market size of more than one trillion US dollars. He


I believe that relevant government agencies, the industry and research institutions can do a lot more to identify the ginormous potential in the domestic bioeconomy. MOSTI through BioEconomy Corp will provide the policy direction, infrastructure development and industry support through fiscal and non-fiscal incentives to entice more investments in the bioeconomy. We highly welcome collaboration with state governments such as through the Sabah Development Corridor.

Huge potential in the bioeconomy: Commercial mushroom farming in Negeri Sembilan. Photo by  Mustafa.
Tiram mushrooms. Photo by Mustafa.


Special thanks goes to BioEconomy Corp (especially the editorial team Mr Adnan Baharum, Mr Azlan Kadir, Mr Brian Chow)  for their contribution towards this article.


Free Malaysia Today: You Have Long Way To Go To Win, Upko Tells Opposition

KOTA KINABALU: Barisan Nasional (BN) component party Upko has cautioned opposition political parties that aspired to win big in the coming election that they still have a long way to go.

Its acting president, Wilfred Madius Tangau, said Upko had been in the political arena for almost three decades now and still had many things to learn.

“Experience has taught us that as a political party, even with Upko being around for almost 30 years, it is not so easy.

“Just imagine, it is only today that we managed to open Upko’s Libaran division … what more parties that are just ‘setahun jagung’ (very new),” he said after launching the Libaran Upko division in Sabah’s east coast Sandakan district here today.

The science, technology and innovation minister was commenting on the recent electoral pact between Parti Cinta Sabah (PCS) and Parti Kerjasama Anak Negeri (Anak Negeri).

The two Sabah opposition parties formalised the agreement last Friday and were optimistic of securing at least 22 of the 25 Kadazandusun Murut (KDM)-majority state seats in the 14th general election (GE14).

Tangau said the pact between the two showed democracy was alive in Malaysia, with anyone free to set up political organisations or form alliances.

“That is their right but it’s not easy. I just want to say good luck to them,” he said.

PCS and Anak Negeri are confident they can strike a balanced seat distribution as they try to avoid having overlapping candidates to ensure they win in at least 22 out of the total seats targeted.

On the launch of Libaran Upko, Tangau said it was to assist BN in Sandakan.

“Sandakan Upko has long existed but has been suspended indefinitely due to technical problems. With the opening of Libaran Upko, our supporters have a place now to be active in politics.

“Libaran Upko will also do its best to help all BN candidates in the three parliamentary and state seats in Sandakan to secure victory,” he said, adding that the division had 1,000 members.

Meanwhile, Upko wants the ruling coalition’s 14th general election manifesto to include the reaffirmation of Sabah’s special position, in accordance with the spirit of the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).

Tangau said Upko has made its point clear to the BN top leadership through deliberations and representations.

“We want to ensure that the MA63 is in the manifesto,” he said when asked to comment on Upko’s input in the formulation of BN’s election manifesto, which is expected to be unveiled on April 7.

He said before this, Upko had already submitted its representation to the prime minister through a memorandum with a 10-point recommendation for the Constitutional Revision/Administrative Rearrangements Towards Greater Autonomy for Sabah in 2015.

He said the memorandum was to address the inalienable rights of Sabah and her people as “equal partners” with Malaya and Sarawak, within the context of the Federation of Malaysia.

This also includes safeguarding the special position, character and interests of the state, as stated in Article VIII (the “compliance mechanism”) of the MA63.

“Upko strongly believes this initiative will further strengthen the agenda of nation-building,” said Tangau, who is also the Tuaran MP.

Upko also wants matters related to MA63 that could be implemented immediately to be carried out before the coming election.

“For instance, the provision of the 40% revenue sharing, which has been stated clearly in the constitution.

“This particular provision, deriving from the MA63, actually only concerns Sabah, and not Sarawak.

“It is a very important provision because it is the basis for Sabah to agree and form the Malaysian constitution.

“Another issue is the freedom of religion, which is already stipulated in the constitution,” he said.

Tangau said over the years, there had been several civil cases where Malaysians had to fight in the court to revert to his or her original religion.

“For instance, if a Hindu wants to revert to Christianity or vice versa, there should not be any hindrance. This is what freedom of religion is, based on our understanding.”

Present were Upko vice-presidents Wences Angang and Marcus Mojigoh, Gum-Gum assemblyman Zakaria Edris, Upko secretary-general Donald Mojuntin and Libaran Upko protem chief Dr Peter Jr Naintin.



Borneo Post: 1,000 students studying Bible Knowledge in Sabah


TUARAN: Upko’s hard work in promoting the teaching of Bible Knowledge in schools is bearing fruits with more than 1,000 students taking up the subject throughout Sabah now.

“I have just received orders for 600 more sets in addition to the 750 textbook sets that have been distributed to the various schools in the state.

“This is unprecedented. We will have a big number of students studying Bible Knowledge in Sabah,” said Upko acting president Datuk Seri Wilfred Madius Tangau.

In two separate ceremonies on Monday, Tangau who is Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation handed over 50 sets of the Bible Knowledge textbooks to SM St John here and 35 sets to SMK Tun Fuad Stephens in Kiulu.

The Tuaran MP said although the subject had been in the education curriculum for quite sometime,  there were not many takers due to challenges associated with it.

“Since not many students are taking up the subject, coupled with challenges such as the shortage of teachers among others, Bible Knowledge studies were almost forgotten,” he said.

Promoting Bible Knowledge has been Upko’s priority, since the request for it to be an elective subject in SPM was made by former president Tan Sri Bernard Dompok when he was a member of the Federal Cabinet in 2011.

“We knew the challenges when the government gave the nod … so Tan Sri Bernard said Upko would do its part and he offered to provide the textbooks,” he said.

Apart from helping to provide the textbooks – Acts of the Apostles and Gospel of Luke – he said the party also helped to start the ball rolling for the setting up of funds to help pay allowances for Bible Knowledge teachers.

As an elective subject, lessons are being taught voluntarily by teachers after school hours.

Tangau reiterated that Upko was working hard to have more schools and students take up Bible Knowledge because he considered it as a critical subject.

He told the students that Bible Knowledge is a subject that can help improve one’s command of English and that it can also be a form of literature.

Tangau said it would also instil noble virtues among the students, which in the future could help them make the right decision when faced with difficult situations.

“I hope they will use the knowledge gained from the subject to become a better useful person in their adulthood,” he said.

Meanwhile, SMK Tun Fuad Stephens super principal Lokuin Gintos expressed gratitude to Tangau for the assistance in supplying the textbooks that were sourced from Peninsular Malaysia.

She admitted that it was the first time that she was seeing the Bible Knowledge textbooks simply because they were not available in Sabah.

“We are very thankful with the initiative of our leader, Datuk Seri Madius Tangau to provide us with the textbooks,” she said.

Receiving the textbooks for SM St John was principal Marcus Salagan. Also on hand was Conrad Wong representing Upko religious and racial harmony bureau.



Free Malaysia Today: Rights of Christians in Sabah will be protected, says Upko leader

He says religious leaders, especially from the Sidang Injil Borneo church, should not be unduly worried about their rights.
Wilfred Madius Tangau (right) and Sabah SIB president Rev Jerry Dusing (second left) visiting the Borneo Theological Seminary library.
KOTA KINABALU: A Sabah Barisan Nasional (BN) leader has assured Christians in the state that their rights under the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) are protected.

Upko acting president Wilfred Madius Tangau said the government of Najib Razak has a pulse on the grassroots, including the concerns of Sabahans on their rights enshrined in MA63.

“The prime minister has said not once or twice but many times that whatever in MA63 that has been taken away from Sabah previously, this present government will give it back,” said Tangau, who is also science, technology and innovation minister.

Religious leaders, especially from the Sidang Injil Borneo (SIB) church, should not be unduly worried about their rights, he said when speaking at the ground-breaking ceremony of the new academic block for the Borneo Theological Seminary (BTS) in Bongkud, Ranau, about 100km from here, on Saturday.
He said the question of freedom in religion should not arise since it is stipulated in the Federal Constitution.

Furthermore, Tangau said Upko had never failed to raise concerns and fight whenever there were issues affecting the Christian community.

The Tuaran MP also pointed out that though the BTS was located in another constituency, he had always made it a point to listen to the SIB church leaders.

He had also been in constant communication with Sabah SIB president Rev Jerry Dusing in discussing ways to assist the SIB congregation in the state.

One of the results of such discussions was the construction of the new academy block for BTS.

Tangau also commended the SIB church for its continuous efforts in helping the government create youths with a strong religious background, which is an important criteria for our future leaders.

Tangau was later accompanied by Dusing to conduct the ground-breaking ceremony at the site before touring the seminary.


From Raw to Treated – Water a Precious Commodity


As a people’s representative, an issue very close to my heart is the accessibility of treated water to domestic consumers especially in the outbacks. World Water Day, designated by the United Nations, is celebrated every 22nd March to promote water related issues – universal access to clean water, and managing freshwater resources sustainably.


According to a 2017 joint report by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and UNICEF, three in 10 people globally, or 2.1 billion, lack access to safe water that is readily available at home. Malaysia has come a long way; but accessibility to treated water is not yet at 100 per cent.


The National Water Services Commission (Suruhanjaya Perkhidmatan Air Negara or SPAN) indicated that today, the national water supply coverage is at 95.7 per cent, the least being Kelantan (64.7), followed by Sabah (89.4) and Sarawak (94.5).


Therefore it is estimated that about 1.4 million people in the country, out of a population of 32.05 million, still do not obtain treated water supply. Around 400,000 residents in Sabah based on a population of 3.8 million are without treated water supply.


As a Member of Parliament overlooking more than 200 villages, I observed that there are many challenges in delivering treated water in the outbacks.  Some common problems are water treatment plants located too far away from consumers, low water catchment areas thus requiring additional booster pumps and undesired climatic conditions such as droughts and floods.


However I have also come across instances where the people are not sufficiently aware of the importance of consuming and using treated water. Some have cited the additional cost of applying for treated water as a hindrance to using it. This is where science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) knowledge can play a role.


STEM can help us understand the process of raw water treatment, its importance and help us appreciate treated water even more. To begin with, there are several sources of raw water such as ground water from wells, surface water from lakes and rivers, ocean water and spring water.


It is interesting to note that raw water originating from different sources would require different water treatment plants or processes. Although the raw water treatment process is lengthy, there are five main steps.


After allowing sand and large debris to settle, the raw water would undergo chemical coagulation to clump very small particles together large enough to be removed later. Next is flocculation, where the coagulated particles further form floc (clumps). The process that follows would let gravity do its job. The flocculated water now contains suspended solids that are denser than water, allowing them to sink to the bottom, a processed known as sedimentation.


The fourth main process is filtration. The water undergoes filtration by passing through gravity filter beds to remove the remaining impurities. Lastly the water is disinfected. Chlorine and other chemical disinfectants are added to the water to ensure that it is safe from microorganisms, especially those that could cause water borne diseases such as cholera, dysentery, typhoid fever and salmonellosis. Fluoride is also added to drinking water at the plant to help strengthen our teeth.


A number of government bodies are involved in the pursuit of safe drinking water. SPAN regulates water supply and sewerage services; the Department of Environment regulates wastewater effluent quality through the Environmental Quality Act 1974 whereas the Ministry of Health regulates food safety, including drinking water through Food Act 1983 and Food Regulations 1985.


MOSTI through the Department of Chemistry Malaysia would analyse water samples, both raw and treated, to ensure that it complies with the National Standard for Drinking Water Quality, which is also in accordance with the WHO Guidelines for Drinking Water Quality. They have to test for almost 120 parameters (substances) in the water samples! Not to mention that the department tests about 150,000 samples annually in its chemistry or microbiology laboratories around the country.


And thankfully, as testified by Puan Zaiton Ariffin who is currently supervising the Environmental Health Division of Environmental Health Division of the department, in most cases the water supply in Malaysia has been of excellent quality, as demonstrated by their analytical reports. We are also blessed that treated water is very affordable in this country.


We might not lack sources for raw water at the moment except during dry spells, but we need to pay more attention to wastewater treatment for two main reasons. As suggested by the Mega Science 1.0 study on Water through the Academy of Sciences Malaysia, the most obvious reason is to conserve and protect our environment, by ensuring that wastewater is treated properly before channelling them back to nature.


The full report is available online for the public’s reference.


Secondly, due to a number of water related challenges such as increasing demand for its supply toward 2050, climate change and pollution, we need to be technologically geared up to overcome them.  The emergence of new pollutants such as the endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) found in pesticides, metals, additives or contaminants in food, pharmaceuticals and personal care products for example, is a growing concern.


According to WHO, EDCs could affect reproductive function in both males and females; increase incidence of breast cancer, cause abnormal growth patterns, neurodevelopmental delays in children and changes in our immune function. Therefore advanced technology is required to filter out contaminants from wastewater such as EDCs.


In the near future might we recycle wastewater for our own consumption? Would this water be safe enough? This is where evidence-based policymaking plays a role.  The Chemistry Department, National Hydraulic Research Institute of Malaysia (NAHRIM) and Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) would join forces to investigate these pharmaceuticals found in the Langat River, Selangor.



I have always said that we need to innovate to solve problems. Take Singapore for instance. They are known as a water technology hub, precisely due to the water problems they are facing.


For a more sustainable solution, our neighbour in the south has invested to come up with advanced technologies to purify reclaimed water. Branded as NEWater, they aim to meet 55 per cent of the city-state’s water needs with this treated wastewater in 40 years’ time, in contrast with the current 40 per cent.


In Chinese there is a saying, “yin shui si yuan”, which literally translates to “when you drink water, think about its source”. It means remembering your source of blessings, urging us to be grateful. As a people’s representative and Minister, I hope more would now be aware of the importance of using and consuming treated water and at the same time, do appreciate how water reaches our taps the next time we quench our thirst!


Special thanks goes to the following experts and agencies for their contribution toward this write-up:

Puan Zaiton bt Ariffin, Senior Director of the Research and Quality Assurance Division covering for the Environmental Health Division, Jabatan Kimia Malaysia

Tan Sri Dato’ Ir Syed Muhammad Shahabudin FASc, Chairman of ASM Water Demand Management Task Force

Ir. Dr. Salmah Zakaria FASc, Chairperson of ASM Water Committee

Academician Datuk Fateh Chand FASc, Chairman of ASM Integrated Aquifer System Management

Professor Dr Yang Farina Abdul Aziz FASc, ASM Water Committee Member

Academy of Sciences Malaysia


Free Malaysia Today: Sabah water supply project expanded to cover more villages

The project under the rural and regional development ministry will now cost RM16.6 million more but Tuaran MP says more villages will get to enjoy clean water.
Consultants briefing community leaders, Tuaran MP Wilfred Madius Tangau and Kiulu assemblyman Joniston Bangkuai.

Under the original plan, only about 3,000 people in 10 villages along Jalan Tamparuli-Ranau would have benefited from the project, which has an approved budget of RM26.3 million.

The 10 villages include Kapa, Puhus, Koporingan, Minangkob, Togop, Hamad, Tomis Baru, Sinalapak and Kelawat.

The proposed modification to the plan would add another RM16.6 million to the original cost.

But it would see more villages benefitting, including Loputung, Ruhiang, Tiong-Tiong, Kitapol, Gayaratau, Bundu Tuhan Bambangan Baru, Parad and Koliposuan in the Tuaran parliamentary constituency.

A meeting, chaired by Tuaran MP Wilfred Madius Tangau on Tuesday here, set the course for a resubmission of the project to the rural and regional development ministry.

All stakeholders, as well as Kiulu assemblyman Joniston Bangkuai and Tangau, were given a comprehensive briefing on the revised plan, which included the various options available, as presented by the project consultants.

Although the project has already been approved, further study done by the consultants showed there were other options that would be more efficient than the original plan to bring the water supply from the Telibong water treatment plant.

One of the hindering factors was the steep terrain. At least eight booster pumps are needed along the water mains to compensate for the low water pressure.

The new plan resubmitted to the government proposed that the water treatment plant be built in the catchment area near the top of the hill in Kampung Lobong-Lobong.

The water can then be distributed down to the villages concerned more efficiently.

In fact, several other villages at the Kota Belud side also stand to benefit if this proposal is approved.

The project is designed to cater to demand for 30 years, which is calculated to be at 4.1 million litres daily (mld) in 2047, compared with 1.469 mld in 2017.

Tangau said all the village heads in the areas concerned were called to attend the briefing to update them on the latest developments on the project.

“We also want them to relocate any houses which are far from the main water pipe, since the installation of pipes to houses located further from the water mains will incur greater cost,” he said.

At the same time, Tangau, who is the federal science, technology and innovation minister, said the involvement of the village leaders was imperative to ensure the project fully benefited the people.

“We also need to inform the people about the proposed changes to the project.

“This project is significant to ensure they are able to enjoy consistent clean water supply in their houses.

“This has always been an issue close to my heart. We have assisted in carrying out short-term measures.

“This proposal will provide a comprehensive remedy,” Tangau said.





Daily Express: RM50k ‘ang pow’ for 24 Tuaran Chinese bodies

Tuaran: Twenty-four Chinese organisations in the district were all smiles Friday when they received an early “ang pow” from Member of Parliament Datuk Seri Wilfred Madius Tangau.

The Upko supremo set the mood for the Chinese New Year celebrations with a contribution of RM50,000 to the organisations as well as eight lion and three dragon heads to selected dance troupes.

Tangau, who is Science, Technology and Innovation Minister, said the contributions signified his appreciation to the contributions of the Chinese community to the economic development of the district and State in general.

He was also glad to note that the Chinese community here had been very supportive of the government programmes.

Speaking at the gathering with Chinese community and association leaders hosted by him at Gayang Restaurant here, he said:

“We must be thankful for the peace and harmony that we have been enjoying now as it has opened up opportunities for us to continue doing business and make a living in spite of the global economic challenges.”

According to him, the country’s economy was heading towards the right direction as the ringgit continued to strengthen against the US dollar.

Tangau also noted the steady increase of tourists from China coming to Sabah, which he attributed to the good relationship between the top leadership of the two countries.

Meanwhile, he thanked the BN component leaders and Chinese Kapitans for accompanying him during his Chinese New Year walkabout in Tenghilan and Tamparuli on Thursday and Tuaran on Friday.

On hand were Tamparuli Community Development Leader Datuk Jahid Jahim, MCA Tuaran Chief Chua Sheng Kian, LDP Tuaran Chief Datuk Alex Lo, PBRS Tamparuli Chief Henry Luaran and Jamlin Ladin representing Umno Tuaran and Chinese community leaders.