Innovating Malaysia. Accelerating Transformation.5

Innovating Malaysia. Accelerating Transformation.


Seems like nobody wants to live in the present. All eyes are on the future with hearts and minds fixed on what it takes to be future-ready.

To me being future-ready begins with the imagination. You have to take your mind on a ride to visualize, for example, what the iPad of today will transform into in the future.

In country terms what does it mean to be future-ready? If we want to stretch the imagination we can think of a time when we run out of land or run out of oil and gas what will we rely on to generate wealth that will keep the money rolling in and everyone contented.

To be future-ready is to connect the dots and see the big picture

Elsewhere around the world there are people engaged in visualizing future scenarios using the present time as the basis to construct a future that is plausible. And in this scenario they throw in the four power tools of an innovation economy – nanotechnology, biotechnology, information technologies and networks and, lastly, neurotechnology.

A convergence of these technologies is taking place and the outcomes will transform the way we live our lives.

To be future-ready is to re-invent, re-design and re-engineer

The Prime Minister has put transformation on the agenda. How quickly we embrace the concept and seriously look at the details will determine how adaptable we will be as a nation when global change hits us like a tsunami.
And it will. It is merely a question of when and where it will spring from.

What does transformation require from us? What does transformation require of me? I know I have to be aware of what is going on around me. I want to know what is going on in every sector from health, education, natural resources, climate change, communications, entertainment to politics.

From knowing what is trending I can make deductions of how emerging technologies are going to impact my life and the life of others.

The future as far as I can see is a very exciting place to be. But those who don’t engage in future visualization will not be prepared for the change that is starting to take place.

To be future-ready is to equip our children with future skills

student learning

Being in education I am deeply concerned that we are not doing enough to prepare our youths for a future where they will need the skills and the adaptability to thrive.
It is time to create the right environment for learning to make a quantum leap. Our children are ready. We must stop underestimating their capabilities. They must be equipped with future skills. If we put urgency into rebuilding the mechanisms for accelerated learning we will find ways to solve issues which I know exist within the present ecosystem.

If we want to think outside the box, we must forget about keeping the status quo. We may have to break some rules and reshape what is existing now into what it must become.

To be future-ready is to push harder and move faster

Transformation is an on-going occurrence as we as a people and as a nation have transformed since we gained sovereignty five decades ago. But now we have to push harder and move faster to catch up with those running in the frontline. We must have the roadmap to get to the front in time.
PTEThe education system must realign itself to fit its outcomes to the objectives of the Economic Transformation Programme. Industry is taking the lead to move the economy to high-income status and this places stress on education to produce a higher caliber of graduates.

Creativity must be embedded h2ly within the education system to unlock the hidden potential of our children. Creativity is a function of intelligence that must be given national priority. Without it the full strength of a child’s thinking skills are not unleashed.

But before we can address the needs of our children we have to address the gaps in the capabilities of our teachers. Our children are growing up surrounded by new technology. They are tech-savvy. They need to enter a learning environment that will keep them stimulated as it unlocks their true potential.

Being future-ready is to transform both rural and urban sectors

felda graduate

Industry now needs human capital that has the competencies to manage and respond to market demands with speed and intelligence. The onus is on education to provide the environment for this training of skills and preparation of minds.
And we must bear in mind that in creating the environment to nurture the skills and the talent, the effort must be comprehensive, addressing both rural and urban needs to bridge the gaps that exist.

In addressing these vastly different sectors the approaches must be different and must be customized to build human capital that will strengthen what is existing today into what must take place tomorrow.

If the focus is agricultural for the rural sector then the curriculum for the rural sector must create the pathways for rural youths to be equipped with new ideas to move agriculture into the future.

We are facing real issues. There is no more time to waste. Everything is changing, evolving so fast that even the targets that we have set for 2020 will have to be revisited as new priorities demand new responses.

Innovating Malaysia. Accelerating Transformation.

Are we there yet ?

I am reminded of how our children, when embarking on a long journey get really excited about the whole notion of travelling and after a little while when the excitement dies down they keep asking – “Are we there, yet?”

When we started our long journey to achieve Vision 2020 in 1991 there was a sense of adventure, of purpose and mission. The whole country was in a fever of excitement and we were speeding ahead till the global financial crisis of 1997 slowed us down.

We never truly regained our momentum till now with the enunciation of the Government Transformation Programme and Economic Transformation Programme.

However I must say that we have been very courageous in still keeping our target date as 2020 when the world has undergone so many changes in so many areas that many countries have revisited their goals to set in place new policies to move their economies forward.

Sectors like global security, finance, technology, travel and politics have all gone topsy-turvy as a result of man-generated and nature-impacted turbulence.

This means the developed nation state of 2020 that was envisioned in the 1990s is a very different scenario from what we are looking at now.

Transformation is a continuous process

But that is not to say that transformation has not taken place. We have changed as a nation and as a people. And we are still changing and transforming. We are proud of the fact that we have risen from a two-commodity economy to become one of the world’s top trading nations.

But to achieve the aspirations set for 2020 is to effect a major transformation.

The plans laid out to achieve just that are indeed impressive, exciting and inspiring.

Now that the road map has been designed and the positive reports keep rolling in we, nevertheless, have to move with urgency to claim that territory we have been eyeing for the past two decades.

We have to realign everything that we do and dovetail it to the transformation we wish to achieve. Everyone, from major corporations to SMEs, public and private sectors must be engaged to ensure we are on the same page. We must all wish for the same thing. We must all yearn for the same goal. We must work together to stake our claim of developed nation status.

Incremental innovation is in the small steps we must take

But we cannot stake our claim of that piece of the future if every Malaysian is not on board the Prime Minister’s vision and mission.

We have to get down to the nitty-gritty and engage in incremental innovation to build the kind of environment that tells the world Malaysia has migrated to a new future.

We cannot do that while the quality of life still has not reached that point that marks positive progress.

And I am certainly not talking about major feats of innovation. I am referring to the tiny steps we have to take to make that giant leap.

What kind of tiny steps you may well ask?

Let me be blunt.

We will not have achieved transformation if the taxi that you called for to pick up your guest is grimy, bug-ridden and the driver is unsmiling and terse.

We will not have achieved transformation if the rubbish in some neighbourhoods have not been collected for over a week.

We will not have achieved transformation if you cannot send your children out to play safely in the park.

These are the incremental innovations we can achieve in the daily course of our lives. Here is where every Malaysian has a role to play. We just need to make improvements in our way of life and it will all add up in a big way.


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About Tan Sri Lim

Tan Sri Dato’ Sri Paduka Dr Lim Kok Wing, the Founder and President of Limkokwing University of Creative Technology, does not fit into any ordinary mould that would describe most entrepreneurs.

His journey has been closely linked with the economic and social development of Malaysia.

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