The Future Is Coming: Transform Now

Address by Tan Sri Dato’ Sri Dr Limkokwing at the launch of “The future is coming: Transform now” book, Putrajaya, January 15th 2013
15 January 2013

Yang Berhormat, Timbalan Menteri, Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah, Yang Berbahagia Tan Sri Dato Seri Dr Aseh Che Mat, Yang Berbahagia Tan Sri Datuk Dr Rafiah Salim, Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen.

Let me begin by thanking everyone for setting aside time to be here. I was amazed to see so many familiar faces here on a Tuesday afternoon. I know how difficult it is to find time for anything these days, especially these few months.

I am not sure if I deserve the very kind words that both my good friends Tan Sri Dr Aseh and Tan Sri Dr Rafiah have used in speaking about me. I know they will say that’s what friends are for.

And may I take this opportunity to congratulate Tan Sri Dr Aseh on being appointed President of Perbadanan Putrajaya.

They couldn’t have picked a better person.

Knowing Tan Sri Aseh well enough, I know Putrajaya will be transformed; it will never be the same again.

Now I must thank Yang Berhormat, Timbalan Menteri Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah for taking time off to be here and to introduce this book – “The future is coming: transform now”, the third in a series on innovation.

Knowing Datuk Saifuddin’s passion for societal innovation and his rapport with the online generation, we couldn’t have found a better person to say a few words on this occasion.

If the title of the book sounds like there is a tinge of impatience, it is probably because I am!

If in some of the articles I have sounded concerned, it is only because I am concerned; that we might be lacking in both speed and substance.

A number of the articles in the book were taken from my blogs, which were written for a wider audience, and in which I had taken the liberty to speak quite frankly and freely.

But my focus has always been for the good of the country and our people.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Since the creation of Google, Facebook, Twitter and the likes, several other giant footprints have been launched in Cyberspace, connecting millions across the world in every conceivable way, and for every conceivable reason.

In creating those online networks, these young people have reduced the world to the size of a smartphone.

Who would have imagined the number of text messages sent each day would be larger than the entire population of the world.

Whether we like it or not, social media has become mainstream just by the sheer force of their speed and size.

Here at home, every day, more than eighteen million Malaysians are online, and virtually every Malaysian is on mobile.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The future that is coming will be at a speed that is hard to imagine.

What used to take years can now be done in minutes.

What used to take fifty people working day and night can now be managed comfortably by a single person in a single day.

Today you are so connected to so many all over the world, you hardly need to have a real friend.

Today, you can be anywhere in the world without going anywhere.

The future that is coming is going to be unbelievable.

They tell us that one day soon, cars will be designed to enable the blind, and those with absolutely no sense of direction, to drive.

One day soon, they say you can turbo-charge your brains to think faster and further than you can imagine.

One day soon, they say damaged body parts can be regenerated to enable you to live for as long as you like.

One day soon, they say the intelligence of machines will overtake humans.

The word impossible must be given a new meaning.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In the near future, the blind will be able to see, the deaf will be able to hear, the disabled will be able to dive and drive.

Countries that are wired to the future are the ones that will move ahead of the rest. Countries that are not will be overtaken or taken over, sooner or later.

Without exception, the most advanced economies have built enabling policies and super infrastructures that will fast-track cutting-edged innovations.

Without exception, all advanced nations are driven by future-focused education and creativity-driven ecosystems.

To keep pace with these countries, Malaysia must transform to be one of the most innovative economies in the world. There are no other options, anyway.

Our future will always be defined by those with the vision to set new goals and find new directions, by those with the foresight and courage to do what must be done.

To get to the front, we must do what must be done now.

We must move our innovation competency and capacity up the global ranking in order to enhance our global competitiveness.

We must be prepared to re-set our criteria to benchmark excellence, so as to ensure compatibility with future demands for innovation.

We must reduce the rigidity of compliance and conformity to encourage pervasive application of creativity in education.

We must design and engineer an education system to fully develop the potential of our people, no matter where they are in the country.

We must inject future-focused leadership and future-ready intellect into a reinvented education ecosystem.

The private sector and the government must team up to identify the outcomes that we must achieved, and design the platforms that will build the human capital, cultural capital, social capital and institutional support essential to build this ecosystem.

Unless public and private sectors work as one team, and sharing the same vision, transformation to an innovation nation is unlikely to happen as quickly as we have envisaged.

Vision 2020 is a moving target anyway. By the time we get there, it would have moved way beyond.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

To conclude, allow me to say this. We must have greater faith in our own people in the building of this country’s future.

Perhaps, it’s time to re-invent the Malaysian mindset. It can only be true that there can be no one more dedicated, more committed, and more prepared to sacrifice for Malaysia than Malaysians themselves.

We have no reasons to keep believing that Malaysians will forever be second best.

It is time to believe in ourselves.

To transform this nation, there must be pervasive coast-to-coast innovation.

To succeed, we must bring every Malaysian on-board, so everyone in the country will be on-track.

To start, we must transform Ministries and the bureaucracy to be capable of motivation and facilitation, way beyond the traditional role of authorization and administration.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I must take this opportunity to thank the Honorable Minister of Higher Education for the recent recognition of this University as Malaysia's University of Innovation.

As well, I must thank the Honorable Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation for his generosity in recognising me as Father of Innovation in Creative Education. The Minister has reminded me several times since then that I must be a pro-active father.

Finally, may I thank once again,Yang Berhormat, Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah for honouring us with his presence and for officiating this occasion. I want Yang Berhormat to know that your show of support and encouragement means a lot to me and the University.

May I, once again, thank everyone for being here. Have a most pleasant day.