Connecting the Dots for Innovation

Against the majestic, panoramic view of Mount Kinabalu is the quaint village of Mesilau, about six kilometres from Kundasang town. Kundasang is long known to be the vegetable hub of Sabah. The vegetable stalls in town are always bustling with local and foreign visitors, including those coming from Sarawak and Brunei.


Vegetable farms and terraces are a common scene. Unsurprisingly, extensive farming over the decades has depleted soil nutrients, causing the crops to be increasingly dependent on chemical fertilisers and pesticides. There was even a period, between 1993 and 1996, where 15 types of vegetable produce from Sabah were banned for exports to Sarawak and Brunei due to excessive levels of pesticide detected in them.


Another more recent tragedy that hit Kundasang was the 2015 Ranau earthquake. Farmers in Mesilau, a key highland vegetable growing area, felt the pinch when roads, bridges and water supply system were damaged.


Azizul Julirin’s family were one of those affected. Vegetable farming has been his parents’ livelihood since he was young. Both his sister and he would help their parents to sell vegetables at the market to fund their studies.


Although the family have diversified their income by also operating a homestay, a popular demand in Kundasang by tourists, the 28-year-old Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) graduate has always been keen in inheriting his parents’ legacy of vegetable farming. He pursued Aquaculture for his degree to explore sustainable solutions to soil degradation by agricultural practices.


Alas, during his industrial training in Japan, he learned about a potential solution – aquaponics. After years of trial and error working on it as his personal project, he finally pursued his passion full time last year, building a 40ft x 60ft greenhouse using various award grants organised by the government he had won.


Visit to Kundasang Aquafarm on 26th March.



I had the privilege to visit “Kundasang Aquafarm”, the name of Azizul’s greenhouse, last Monday and that was how I came to know about this gritty Sabahan chap. At the greenhouse, he applies aquaponics to grow green and red coral lettuce, making around RM 3,000 monthly from this small area of land!


Aquaponics, Azizul explained to me, is a combination of aquaculture and hydroponics. Aquaculture is growing fish and other aquatic animals, whereas hydroponics is growing plants without using soil. In aquaponics, there is a symbiotic relationship where fish waste acts as fertilisers for the plants and concurrently, the plants would filter the fish waste, maintaining the water quality.


He also shared that his parents’ land has been exhausted to grow vegetables for the past 30 years and therefore is no longer of optimum quality for further plantation. The unconventional technique of aquaponics would solve most of the problems mentioned earlier about traditional farming.



Producers of crops do not have to explore new land for farming due to nutrient depletion; pesticides are not applied thus yielding organic crops and this integrated system could accommodate short term water supply disruption.


Azizul has come a long way. Not only he is a scientist specialising in aquaponics, to realise his ambition he has also sharpened his business acumen. To fund his project, he conducted thorough research about funding opportunities by the government and to win the grants, he had to prove that his business would be viable.


Since 2015, his proposal for an aquaponics vegetable farm has been successful in a number of programmes and awarded grants – the Sabah Biz Challenge, Tunas Usahawan Belia Bumiputera (TUBE) programme, Pitch Borneo 2016 and the Inclusive Innovation Challenge Borneo Zone organised by Yayasan Inovasi Malaysia (YIM).


TUBE programme is an entrepreneurship programme by SME Corp, of which the Prime Minister himself allocated RM 10 million since 2014 to aid budding bumiputra entrepreneurs aged 18 to 30. Participants would join a business bootcamp, be linked to business mentors and awarded a grant to kick-start their venture.


Following the success of Azizul’s sustainable method of vegetable farming, last month, YIM through MOSTI granted him RM 200,000 to train the community in Kundasang in aquaponics and entrepreneurship.


I see his story as a tremendous grassroots innovation success. It is community-led, for the benefit of community and advocates sustainability. This is exactly what YIM aims to achieve. In recent years YIM has also been transformed to reach out to communities more effectively via digital platforms.  In Azizul’s case, he learned about government’s various grants including YIM’s through social media.


To help connect the dots for the public in innovation, YIM has pre-launched the country’s first iGrassroots Connect in Wisma Sedia, Kota Kinabalu, on 22nd March. This is a follow-up from the National Innovation Council meeting I chaired last December.


I had visited the Centre for Creative Economy and Innovation in Jeju Island earlier last July and was determined to implement this idea back home.


Say, you are aware of a local problem that needs to be solved, or you have an innovation you would like to test and eventually sell, would you know where and how to take the first step? iGrassroots Connect would help innovators connect the dots – from verifying the needs and challenges of the local community, connecting them to various government initiatives such as SME Corp and private investors, to commercialising their ideas. With igrassroots Connect, I hope to see more success stories like Azizul’s in Sabah.


Another admirable quality of Azizul is his burning enthusiasm to give back to his community. Besides introducing a green solution to sustain the livelihood of his community, he diligently shares his knowledge and skills with them.


As a Minister and People’s Representative, I have always advocated for youths to be “job creators” rather than “job seekers”. This has been more possible in the digital era. Therefore I am very heartened by Azizul’s spirit. He demonstrated that opportunities are abundant even in the quiet outbacks of Kundasang and not limited to the cities.



Special thanks to the following for their contribution to this article:

Azizul Julirin, founder of Kundasang Aquafarm.

Yayasan Inovasi Malaysia (YIM).

Bracing for Nature’s Brutality/ Menghadapi Bencana Alam

Klik sini untuk artikel Bahasa Malaysia: 28.3.18 Menghadapi Bencana Alam


It was only several seconds of tremblor and deep rumbles, but the 5.2 magnitude earthquake that struck Ranau on 8th earlier this month sent another wave of chills down our spine.


Thankfully, this incident did not claim any lives and no major damage were reported. The National Weather and Geophysical Operations Centre as part of the Malaysian Meteorological Department or MetMalaysia reported that as of 13th of March there were four aftershocks that followed, a common phenomenon as with other earthquakes, ranging from magnitudes 2.8 to 3.2.


As the Minister overseeing MetMalaysia, I explained the standard operating procedure (SOP) and responded to questions pertaining to this earthquake during the current parliament sitting that is still on-going.

Responding to questions pertaining to the 8th March earthquake in parliament.

In the event of the earthquake registering a magnitude of 3.0 or more on the Richter scale, MetMalaysia would issue earthquake warnings to disaster management agencies via text messages within merely eight minutes. MetMalaysia would also disseminate the warnings to the public through news ticker on television screens, fax, press statements through their social media (Facebook: MalaysiaMet, Twitter: @MalaysianMet), website and the mobile app myCuaca.


Therefore the public is strongly advised to follow MetMalaysia’s news closely for accurate and quick update on local meteorological conditions.


In the wake of this most recent earthquake, MetMalaysia has reviewed the SOP of the monitoring and dissemination of earthquake and tsunami warnings.


Firstly the disaster action team (Pasukan Bertindak Bencana) would be mobilised when an earthquake of magnitude of 5.0 or more is recorded within a 10km radius from the centre of Mount Kinabalu, in contrast with the previous magnitude 5.5.


Next the National Disaster Management Agency (NADMA), Bukit Aman’s Malaysia Control Centre (MCC), Malaysian Civil Defence Force (APM) and the Fire and Rescue Department of Malaysia (BOMBA) would be alerted and mobilised.


Besides reviewing the SOP, MOSTI through MetMalaysia has enhanced the monitoring and data collection of seismic activities in the country especially in Sabah. In 2016 a state Weather and Geophysical Operations Centre was set up at the Kota Kinabalu International Airport.


This is complemented by the addition of 15 seismic stations throughout the state, costing RM 12.1 million, bringing them to a total of 28 stations in Sabah. There are 78 in Malaysia altogether, a vast extension from only 14 stations in 2006.


The upgraded seismic stations network in Sabah can now detect earthquakes as low as magnitude 1.0 on the Richter scale.


In Malaysia, Sabah is relatively susceptible to seismic activities as it is located on the south-eastern Eurasian Plate. It is also surrounded by the Philippine Plate and Pacific Plate. Lahad Datu and Ranau’s proneness to quakes can be attributed to several active fault lines.


The 6.0 magnitude Ranau earthquake on 5th June 2015 set off alarm bells for Malaysia to create policies and guidelines for structures to resist tremblors to a certain magnitude.


Even long before the Ranau tragedy, in 2002 the Public Works Department initiated a study that scrutinised the structural vulnerabilities of 140 buildings throughout the country, including in Kota Kinabalu, Labuan, Tawau, Kudat and Sandakan.


Under MOSTI, the Department of Standards Malaysia took measures by initiating a Malaysian Standards (MS) on earthquake in 2007. As I have described before, Malaysia is migrating from British standards to Eurocode 8 that would take earthquake resistance into consideration in structural designs.


After in-depth studies by the standards committee, numerous consultations with experts from the industry and academia, and the public, “MS EN 1998-1 Eurocode 8: Design of structures for earthquake resistance – Part 1: General Rules, Seismic Actions and Rules for Building” was published in 2015, followed by the Malaysia National Annex to Eurocode 8 in November last year.


We ought to be proud of our enduring effort in formulating this MS, done in the best interest and safety of the public. With this MS, starting 2018, public buildings in Sabah would adopt its guidelines to survive quakes better.


However the parameters in this national annex is only applies to the design of new buildings; moving forward we would have to look into other structures such as bridges, retrofitting of existing buildings and their foundations.


In conjunction with World Meteorological Day 2018 on Friday 23rd March, I announced that the Malaysian Board of Technologists (MBOT) would soon confer professional recognition to graduates and experts in the field of atmospheric science. As of today 3,458 technologists have come forward to register with the Board. I urge all eligible candidates to do so.

World Met Day 2018 (2)
Sharing a light moment with students from Universiti Putra Malaysia at the World Meteorological Day 2018 celebration on 23rd March at Kota Kinabalu International Airport.
WhatsApp Image 2018-03-23 at 16.51.45.jpeg
MetMalaysia also launched a new app named RakanMET that allows public to share meteorological information after verification from the authorities.

This field would be the 22nd technology-based profession endorsed by MBOT, in our bid to acknowledge these technologists and technicians as an important pillar of the country’s human capital in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, in the face of climate change and meteorological uncertainties such as earthquakes.


Our preparedness to brace for earthquakes is evident – we would regularly review our SOP, carry out drills, upgrade equipment, develop standards and human capital – to minimise the loss of precious lives and damages to our economy. However each of us needs to take responsibility for our own safety.


In addition to public awareness campaigns on earthquake and tsunami, we should educate ourselves on how to prepare for one; for their brutal occurrence is always unforeseen, untimely and of course, most unwelcome.



Special thanks to the following agencies for their contribution toward this article:

Jabatan Meteorologi Malaysia

Jabatan Standards Malaysia

Academy of Sciences Malaysia


Related articles:

Towards Safer Buildings for Sabah / Ke Arah Bangunan yang Lebih Selamat untuk Sabah

Adopt Guidelines for Earthquake-Resistant Buildings / Bangunan Tahan Gempa Demi Meredakan Kebimbangan Rakyat

Celebrating our weather heroes / Meraikan Wira Cuaca Kita

Ucapan: Sambutan Hari Meteorologi Sedunia 2018, Pelancaran RakanMET


World Met Day 2018
Jabatan Meteorologi Malaysia dan Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) telah memeterai memorandum persefahaman. Gambar oleh Rayner.











 23 MAC 2018 (JUMAAT)




Terima kasih Saudara Pengacara Majlis,


  1. Prof. Madya. Dr. Ramzah Dambul

Timbalan Ketua Setiausaha (Sains, Teknologi dan Inovasi) MOSTI

  1. Encik Alui BIN bahari

Ketua Pengarah Jabatan Meteorologi Malaysia


Naib Canselor

Universiti Putra Malaysia


Pengarah Pejabat Meteorologi Sabah




Selamat Petang, Salam Sejahtera, Salam Negaraku Malaysia dan Salam 1MOSTI.

  1. Saya berasa bangga kerana dapat bersama tuan-tuan dan puan-puan pada hari ini. Ini kerana Tanggal 23 Mac setiap tahun seluruh komuniti meteorologi di 191 buah negara anggota di bawah Pertubuhan Meteorologi Sedunia (World Meteorological Organisation – WMO), termasuk Malaysia meraikan sambutan Hari Meteorologi Sedunia dengan tema tertentu. Difahamkan pada tahun ini tema Sambutan Hari Meteorologi Sedunia adalah Siap siaga-cuaca; Pintar-iklim ataupun “Weather-ready; Climate-smart”.


  1. Pemilihan tema ini jelas menekankan kepentingan pengetahuan dan kefahaman tentang cuaca dan iklim yang mendalam bagi memastikan masyarakat dan Negara lebih bersiap sedia menghadapi sebarang bencana atau ancaman dari perubahan cuaca dan iklim pada masa kini dan akan datang. Secara globalnya, masyarakat di seluruh pelosok dunia terdedah dengan pelbagai ancaman dari aspek cuaca ekstrem antaranya taufan, ribut tropika, hujan lebat, gelombang panas, cuaca kering dan cuaca sejuk.


  1. Kesan perubahan iklim juga kini dapat dirasai di Malaysia. Sejak kebelakangan ini, kejadian cuaca ekstrem lebih kerap berlaku. Terkini ialah hujan lebat di Pulau Pinang pada 4 November 2017 yang telah melumpuhkan bandar tersebut. Para saintis percaya perubahan iklim meningkatkan keamatan, kekerapan kejadian cuaca dan fenomena iklim yang melampau dan berisiko mendedahkan masyarakat dunia dengan ancaman bencana hidro-meteorologi.
World Met Day 2018 (2)
Bersama-sama pelajar-pelajar UPM yang hadir ke majlis. Gambar oleh Rayner.


Impak Cuaca Ekstrem


  1. Pada 18 Januari 2018, pihak Pertubuhan Meteorologi Sedunia (WMO) telah mengeluarkan Kenyataan Media bahawa terdapat petanda yang jelas mengenai perubahan iklim jangka panjang yang berterusan yang disebabkan oleh peningkatan kepekatan gas rumah hijau. Tahun 2015, 2016 dan 2017 telah disahkan sebagai tiga tahun paling panas dalam rekod. Tahun 2016 masih memegang rekod global paling panas, manakala tahun 2017 adalah tahun paling panas tanpa El Niño. Analisis bersepadu menunjukkan bahawa purata suhu permukaan pada tahun 2017 adalah kira-kira 0.46 °C lebih tinggi berbanding purata suhu dunia jangka panjang, 1981-2010 (14.3 °C).


  1. Ini sekali gus akan memberi kesan ke atas aspek keselamatan, kesejahteraan dan kesihatan manusia, menggugat pertumbuhan dan kestabilan ekonomi negara serta menyebabkan berlakunya perubahan ke atas landskap dan alam semula jadi. Dalam menghadapi situasi ini, kita perlu mengorak langkah supaya sentiasa sedia menghadapi sebarang perubahan dan ancaman cuaca secara bijak. Langkah awal yang perlu diambil adalah mendalami lebih lanjut serta memahami cuaca dan iklim yang berlaku di Malaysia dan kawasan serantau.


  1. Pada masa ini, WMO dan ahli-ahlinya termasuk Jabatan Meteorologi Malaysia memberi keutamaan dalam misi mereka melindungi kehidupan dan harta benda daripada risiko yang berkaitan dengan cuaca, iklim dan air dengan menyokong agenda global mengenai pembangunan lestari, adaptasi perubahan iklim dan pengurangan risiko bencana. Pembekalan ramalan cuaca semasa, sederhana dan jangka panjang membolehkan pihak berkepentingan membuat keputusan segera dalam menghadapi sebarang risiko bencana.


Inisiatif Negara Terhadap Cuaca dan Iklim


  1. Di peringkat antarabangsa, di bawah United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Malaysia telah menandatangani Protokol Kyoto dan Perjanjian Paris. Ini menunjukkan Kerajaan adalah komited dalam menangani isu iklim dunia dengan mengurangkan pelepasan gas rumah hijau sebanyak 45% pada tahun 2030. Usaha Kerajaan dalam menghadapi masalah iklim sejagat dapat dilihat melalui beberapa inisiatif antaranya seperti yang digariskan dalam Dasar Biofuel Negara (2006), Dasar Perubahan Iklim Negara (2009) dan Dasar dan Pelan Tindakan Tenaga Boleh Diperbaharui (2010).


  1. YAB Perdana Menteri turut menekankan, Malaysia tetap teguh dengan misinya untuk mengurangkan pelepasan gas karbon dioksida dalam tempoh Rancangan Malaysia Kesebelas (2016-2020) yang memberi fokus terhadap usaha pertumbuhan hijau, amalan penggunaan dan pengeluaran secara lestari, pemuliharaan sumber asli dan meningkatkan kesedaran terhadap perubahan iklim yang mampu mengundang bencana alam.


9.         Malaysia juga turut melaksanakan Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (SFDRR) 2015-2030 bagi mengurangkan risiko sedia ada dan mencegah perkembangan risiko baharu serta memperkuat daya tahan terhadap bencana.


Sistem Amaran Awal


  1. Pengoperasian Sistem Amaran Awal merupakan salah satu elemen penting dalam pengurangan risiko bencana. Menyedari hakikat itu, bagi memantapkan kesiapsiagaan negara menghadapi cuaca ekstrem, Kerajaan telah melaksanakan projek untuk memperkasakan sistem amaran awal cuaca Jabatan Meteorologi Malaysia (MMD) yang merangkumi model tinjauan cuaca dan sistem penyediaan maklumat cuaca.


  1. Pelaksanaan projek ini telah meningkatkan keupayaan model cuaca beresolusi tinggi dan memanjangkan tempoh tinjauan daripada 3 (tiga) hari kepada 7 (tujuh) hari serta meningkatkan resolusi model cuaca kepada 1 kilometer berbanding 4 kilometer sebelum ini. Sistem penyediaan maklumat cuaca pula ditambah baik bagi mentransformasikan produk-produk cuaca sedia ada kepada produk-produk yang lebih mesra pengguna dan memenuhi kehendak terkini pihak-pihak berkepentingan. Projek ini membolehkan maklumat dan amaran cuaca dikeluarkan lebih awal, cepat dan tepat.


  1. Peranan MOSTI melalui MMD amat penting dalam menyediakan maklumat cuaca kritikal kepada pengurusan bencana negara. Lebih penting lagi ialah penyebaran awal amaran cuaca ini dilaksanakan menerusi rangkaian pemantauan cuaca di MMD yang beroperasi 24 jam sehari, 7 hari seminggu merangkumi 43 Pejabat Meteorologi Utama, 490 Stesen Cuaca Auksiliari, lapan Stesen Pencerapan Udara Atas, 12 Stesen Radar Meteorologi dan satu Stesen Satelit Meteorologi serta model cuaca.


  1. Sebagai Kementerian yang menerajui agenda STI, MOSTI amat yakin bahawa kita mampu untuk mewujudkan sistem amaran awal yang dapat memberi maklumat dan pengetahuan yang sesuai untuk membuat keputusan yang tepat dan mengambil tindakan yang berkesan setanding dengan negara-negara maju. Namun, sistem amaran awal ini boleh gagal sekiranya amaran yang dikeluarkan tidak difahami golongan sasaran atau masyarakat.


  1. MOSTI melalui agensi/jabatan di bawahnya seperti Jabatan Meteorologi Malaysia sentiasa menganjurkan pelbagai program kesedaran awam kepada pelbagai peringkat masyarakat dan komuniti. Usaha-usaha ini selaras dengan inisiatif Kerajaan iaitu Transformasi Nasional 2050 (TN50) – satu usaha untuk membentuk masa depan Malaysia dengan memberikan perhatian terhadap kepentingan keperluan rakyat.


Pelancaran Aplikasi RakanMET


  1. Selaras dengan era digital, saya merasa amat bangga kerana MOSTI melalui Jabatan Meteorologi Malaysia turut mengambil inisiatif memperkasakan sistem penyampaian maklumat dengan membangunkan aplikasi RakanMET seperti mana inisiatif Rakan Cop, PDRM.


  1. Aplikasi RakanMET ini merupakan aplikasi kedua yang dibangun selepas aplikasi myCuaca yang telah dilancarkan pada tahun 2015. Aplikasi RakanMET ini menyediakan saluran perkongsian maklumat mengenai keadaan cuaca di Malaysia. Melalui aplikasi ini orang ramai boleh melapor kejadian dan fenomena cuaca di kawasan masing-masing. Ianya juga berperanan sebagai medium komunikasi dua hala antara orang awam dan jabatan bagi mendapatkan maklumat yang sahih dan tepat.


Memorandum Persefahaman


  1. Saya juga berasa amat bangga kerana pada hari ini, Jabatan Meteorologi Malaysia dan Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) akan memeterai memorandum persefahaman bagi mewujud dan meningkatkan hubungan kerjasama dalam bidang meteorologi dan iklim. Skop kerjasama yang dijalinkan merangkumi program penyelidikan, pembangunan, latihan, penerbitan serta pertukaran data dan maklumat berkaitan meteorologi, iklim dan geofizik.


  1. UPM merupakan sebuah Universiti yang sentiasa berusaha untuk meningkat dan memperkukuhkan kemampuan penyelidikannya manakala MMD sebuah Jabatan yang beroperasi bagi memantau dan mengeluarkan maklumat mengenai keadaan cuaca, iklim dan geofizik. Selaras dengan pendekatan Strategi Lautan Biru Kebangsaan (NBOS), saya yakin di bawah memorandum persefahaman ini, pihak MMD dan UPM dapat saling melengkapi dalam memperkukuh, menggalak dan membangunkan bidang pendidikan, penyelidikan dan khidmat masyarakat yang berkaitan dengan meteorologi, iklim dan geofizik. Saya ucapkan syabas dan tahniah kepada MMD dan UPM atas usaha memeterai memorandum persefahaman tersebut.




  1. Sebelum mengakhiri ucapan saya pada hari ini, saya ingin sekali lagi mengucapkan setinggi-tinggi penghargaan dan terima kasih kepada semua pihak atas kerjasama dan usaha gigih untuk menjayakan majlis sambutan ini iaitu Jabatan Meteorologi Malaysia dan semua pihak yang turut terlibat.


  1. Akhir kata, selamat membudayakan Sains, Teknologi dan Inovasi dan semoga kita bertemu dalam program-program yang lain pada masa hadapan. Dengan ini, saya dengan sukacitanya merasmikan SAMBUTAN HARI METEOROLOGI SEDUNIA 2018 DAN PELANCARAN APLIKASI RakanMET.


Sekian, terima kasih.


The Star: PM’s visit a major morale booster for Kiulu folks


Adventure territory:Najib checking on the progress of the Telipok-Kiulu-Randagong road connection project in Ranau. — Bernama

Adventure territory:Najib checking on the progress of the Telipok-Kiulu-Randagong road connection project in Ranau. — Bernama


KOTA KINABALU: The folks of Kiulu, a sub-district of Tuaran, have never had a Prime Minister come a-calling. So it was historic when Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak set foot in a village there yesterday.

Although it was no secret why the Prime Minister made his way to the sub-district, he vowed to return and spend more time with them, promising to even go white-water rafting when he does.

“I want to make a special offer. If you want me to go rafting here, I ask you to help deliver all four seats to Barisan.

“I will come back after the general election,” Najib said as he inspected a 60km road project that would connect Telipok-Kiulu-Randagong in Ranau.

Estimated at RM288mil, the stretch is expected to be completed by March next year.

Kiulu, Sulaman and Tamparuli are the three state seats under the Tuaran parliamentary constituency.

In the last election, Barisan won the Tuaran parliamentary seat through Datuk Seri Wilfred Madius Tangau of Upko, Sulaman through Umno’s Hajiji Noor and Kiulu by a whisker – 44 votes – through debutant Datuk Joniston Bangkuai of PBS.

However, the ruling coalition lost narrowly in Tamparuli to PKR by 383 votes.

Sabah Barisan has shifted to high gear in an effort to make a clean sweep this time around.

Last week, Chief Minister Tan Sri Musa Aman hinted that the PBS’ former Tamparuli assemblyman Datuk Jahid Jahim would be fielded there again.

Bangkuai, a former Sabah New Straits Times bureau chief, described Najib’s visit as a “major morale booster” to the rural folk.

“It is big when you have the PM meeting the people and pledging to bring development,” said Bangkuai.

“There has been no development for many years here. But we have been seeing progress,” said the assemblyman whose hilly Kiulu constituency had 105 kampungs spread over a 388sq km area.

Kiulu is said to be the second most scenic village in Malaysia, thanks to the Kiulu River famed for white-water rafting.



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.