I found Ahmad Ibrahim's piece in NST Online rather consistent with the point that I've been trying to make in this blog. Unlike my nondescript self, Ahmad Ibrahim is a Fellow of the Malaysian Academy of Sciences. So, while Malaysia's economic managers can haughtily dismiss views offered by bloggers as little more than light flatulence, they should not ignore someone like Ahmad Ibrahim, part of whose piece I offer here:
Diversification has always been Malaysia's strong point in strategising the country's economic pursuits. In the early years, it was diversification in agriculture. Oil palm and cocoa were introduced to complement rubber in the plantation sector.
Later, manufacturing was brought in to cushion the impact of the volatility of commodity prices. The plantation sector also ventured downstream for added value as part of the sector's diversification strategy. The rubber industry invested in rubber products; the palm oil industry in oleochemicals; and cocoa in chocolate products.
All such moves contributed to Malaysia's healthy economic growth in the last 50 years. Will the same recipe work for the next 50 years?
Not likely. Economists now agree that Malaysia can no longer compete on the basis of the country's traditional low labour and land cost advantage. Continuing with such a strategy may even spell doom for the economy. Instead, there is wide consensus that innovation is the only way forward if Malaysia is to repeat the country's economic success of the last 50 years.
But do we have what it takes to capitalise on innovation as a way to create wealth and promote socio-economic well-being? Can innovation work in Malaysia? The call to embrace innovation is not new, but we still do not have anything to really show for it, except perhaps some early achievements in rubber and palm oil.
You really have to read the entire piece here.
While reading this piece, I found out to my amusement that there is even a National Innovation Council. It is chaired by the Prime Minister. Did you know that?
And did you know that the National Innovation Council endorsed a National Innovation Model? What is a National Innovation Model? I have no fornicating sightless deer (no eye deer. Get it?).