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This section describes provides a closer focus on science and technology in Malaysia.

Education in science and technology, human capital for science and technology, R&D activities, innovation in the industrial sector and scientific publications are used as the indicators in measuring the achievement of Malaysia’s scientific and technological development.

3.8.1 Education in Science and Technology

The Malaysian government has initiated a number of science and technology education initiatives, these have included the expansion of the number of public and private universities, the launch of the Science and Technology Human Resource Development Fund, and providing various training schemes for employees to equip their workers with skills needed by industry (MASTIC, 2010). More specifically under the National Science and Technology Policy, the government has set the target of achieving a 60:40 ratio of science to arts enrolment. To promote these aims there has been the introduction of Book Allowance Support Program for student pursuing science and technology streams at upper secondary school level, review of syllabi and teaching approaches for science and technical subjects in primary and secondary school (Malaysia, 1996). Table 3.9 and Table 3.10 provide some evidence that the initiatives have experienced some success. According to Table 3.9, from 1995 to 2005 there has been steadily increase in the enrolment of student in science and technical courses at first degree, diploma and certificate level. At first degree level, enrolment in science and technical courses has increased from 30,823 students in 1995 to 88,880 students in 2000.


Table 3.9

Enrolment for First Degree, Diploma and Certificate in Science and Technical Courses from Local Public Higher Educational Institutes, 1995-2005

Year 1995 2000 2005

Certificate Science Technical Engineering

Architecture, town planning & Survey

592 10,320 355

1,008 20,396 425

2,110 64,516 788

Total 11,256 21,856 67,414

Diploma Science

Agriculture related sciences(includes home sc. &

human dev)

Other (includes computer studies & applied sc.) Technical


Architecture, town planning & survey Others(includes property management)

2,296 2,882 11,513 3,845 386

2,071 14,951 27,419 6,710 1,281

2,400 20,545 42,879 20,711 5,529

Total 20,922 52,432 92,064

First degree Science

Medicine & dentistry

Agriculture related sciences(includes home sc. &

human dev) Pure Science

Others (includes pharmacy, environment studies, food tech.)

Technical Engineering

Architecture, town planning & survey Others (includes property management)

3,738 2,472 4,032 7,929 9,756 1,397 1,499

6,908 4,940 9,081 28,646 31,494 4,682 3,129

8,656 5,961 14,739 42,541 57,684 7,920 3,180

Total 30,823 88,880 140,879

Source: Eight Malaysia Plan (2000-2005) Note: Data is the most recent available


Table 3.10

Enrolment for science and technical course at certificate and Diploma level by type of institution in Public Higher Educational Institutes, 2002-2008

Year 2002 2004 2006 2008

Universities 30,111 31,111 31,724 37,002

Polytechnics 52,898 64,384 82,045 85,335 (2009)

Community colleges

3,207 8,946 11,273 11,241 (2009)

Source: MOHE statistic

Note: Data is the most recent available

3.8.2 Human Capital for Science and Technology

Although the number of students’ graduating from tertiary institutions with science and technology training is increasing, this has not yet converted to a similar increase in scientists and engineers in the workforce. As an example, the output of science and technology graduates increased from 40.1 percent in 2000 to 52.4 percent in 2005, but the number of scientists and engineers during the same period only increased at an average of approximately 10 workers per 10,000 members of the workforce (Malaysia, 2006). Internationally Malaysia also lags significantly behind other NICs in terms of number of researcher and engineer per 10,000 members of the workforce, as shown in Table 3.11.


Table 3.11

Researcher and Engineer (Headcount) per 10,000 Labour Force Country 1990 1994 2000 2004

Japan 75 80 121 132

Korea 53 61 45 90

Singapore 30 49 85 114

Taiwan 31 48 80 n.a

Malaysia 2 6 16 24

Source: Data compiled from Asgari and Wong (2007) and MASTIC (2005) Note: n.a – not available

According to Leong (1997) there are three crucial factors that need to be addressed for Malaysia to successfully develop its human capital supply. The first factor is to strengthen its education system. This includes giving special emphasis to subjects such as science, mathematics and English language, as well as vocational and technical education. Secondly, it needs to encourage the adoption of well-designed management practices that enhance entrepreneurship. And finally, efforts need to be made to constantly upgrade and train the workforce to keep up with current technological processes. This lifelong learning will ensure skills are maintained and updated.

Various economic development policy plans have pursued policies consistent with Leong’s observations. For instance, life –long learning was a major theme in the Third Outline Perspective Plan (OPP) (2001-2010) and the Knowledge-Based Economy Master Plan which was launched in 2000. In response to the plans, the Malaysian government created the Community Colleges and the National Vocational Training


Council (NVTC)32 (Anuwar, 2005). Community Colleges provide the opportunity to local people to continuously be updated with technical education and training. The NVTC which was established under the Ministry of Human Resources also took on responsibilities for administrating the countries skills training programs (Haslinda, Raduan & Kumar, 2007) and their articulation with the development plan. In term of financial assistance for skills training the Malaysian government also established a Skills Development Fund in 2001 as an incentive for individuals to pursue their studies in both the public and private training institutions (Anuwar, 2005).

Since the government started to focus Malaysia’s development planning towards its science and technology base, the number of students graduating from institutions of higher learning with science and engineering courses has increased gradually. For instance, during the Seventh Malaysia Plan (1996-2000), a total of 136,003 students graduated at the first degree level with 42 percent from scientific and technical based courses and the number increase to 54 percent or 157,614 students during the Eight Malaysia Plan (2001-2005).

3.8.3 Research and Development Activities

Separate allocation for science and technology development was included in Malaysia’s development policies starting in 1986 with the Fifth Malaysia Plan (1986-1990). In the plan, RM414 million was allocated for R&D activities (Asgari and Wong, 2007). Since this time the budget allocated for science and technology has increasing in every one of

32 In 2006 the National Vocational Training Council has changed its name to the Department of Skills Development (DSD)


Malaysia’s Five Year Development Plans (RM588 million in the Sixth Malaysia Plan, RM1 billion in the Seventh Malaysia Plan and RM1.6 billion in the Eight Malaysia Plan). During the early period of the plans, the allocation was not effectively used because of the lack of S&T infrastructures and shortage of skilled human capital (Felker, 1999). However, the situation has been improved recently. This has resulted from rapid actions and various programs taken by the government to upgrade its scientific activities.

As reported by MASTIC (Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation, 2005), R&D expenditure increased from RM1.7 billion in 2000 to RM2.5 billion in 2002. Over the decade, the private sector was the largest contributor accounting for about two-thirds of the expenditures; this was followed by the government agency and institutes of higher learning (Table 3.12).

Table 3.12

Distribution of R&D Investment in Malaysia by Sector (RM million), 2000-2008 Year Private sector Institute of

Higher Learning

Gov. Research Institutions

2000 967.9 286.1 417.5

2002 1,633.1 360.4 507.1

2004 2,033.6 513.3 296.9

2006 3,096.4 360.8 189.5

2008 535.5 772.9 431.3

Source: MASTIC (2010)

Note: Data are for 2000-2008, the most recent data available

In term of gross expenditure on R&D as a proportion of GDP, the percentage increased considerably from 0.63 percent in 2004 to 0.64 percent in 2006 (Table 3.13). Although in 2008, the figure dropped to 0.24 percent due to the global financial crisis, it increased


significantly in 2010. It should be noted nevertheless, that despite these increases, Malaysia’s R and D investment is still small by most international standards.

Table 3.13

Gross R&D Expenditure in GDP, 2000-2010 (%)

Country 2002 2004 2006 2008 2010

Japan 3.17 3.32 3.40 3.44 3.3

Korea 2.53 2.85 3.23 3.36 3.0

Singapore 2.16 2.24 2.39 2.77 2.2

Malaysia 0.69 0.63 0.64 0.24 0.63

Source: MOSTI (2010), UNESCO

3.8.4 Innovation in the Industrial Sector

Innovation activities in industry are one of the indicators used in measuring science and technology capability of a country. For the year of 2010, Malaysia ranked at the 10th position in The World Competitiveness Year Book ahead of other developed countries such as the United Kingdom (22), Japan (27) and South Korea (23) (Malaysia Productivity Corporation, 2010). This suggests that Malaysia has been very active involved in innovation. Malaysia’s innovation capacities in global ranking are show in Table 3.14. Overall, Malaysia has shown a consistent performance.


Table 3.14

Malaysia’s Innovation Capacities in Global Ranking

Indicator 2009-2010 2010-2011

Capacity for Innovation 25 25

Company spending on R&D 19 16

University-industry collaboration in R&D

22 22

Government procurement of advanced technology product

9 8

Availability of scientists and engineers 33 33

Utility patents per million population 29 29

Source: World Economic Forum (2009, 2010)

Maintaining this position may not be without its challenges. Based on survey undertaken by MASTIC on 749 firms, only 35 percent carried out innovative activities and 10 percent from this amount was contributed by foreign owned firms (Malaysia, Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation, 2005). One surprising finding from the survey was only 32 percent of the innovating firms indicated government support and initiatives as crucial for undertaking innovation.

3.8.5 Scientific Publications and Patent Grants

The decisions to put a separate chapter focussing on science and technology in the Fifth Malaysia Plan would appear to have had an impact on increasing the output of scientific papers for Malaysia. During the Fifth Malaysia Plan (1986-1990) period 1,888 papers


were published. The number increased in the period of Sixth Malaysia Plan (1991-1995) and Seventh Malaysia Plan (1996-2000) with 3,183 papers and 4,466 papers, and since then, it grew considerably (Asgari and Wong, 2007). Table 3.15 shows Malaysian scientific publication from 2002 to 2010. Although the figure rose over the last decade, compared globally, it is still considered small. Ranked at 23rd out of 132 countries, with a total number of 6,695 publications in 2010, Malaysian clearly needs to implement a better strategy to remain competitive (Malaysia, Ministry of International Trade and Industry, 2010).

Table 3.15

Scientific Publication, 2000-2010

Source: SCImago, and Webscience

In terms of patents applied for and granted. Malaysia showed progress over this period of time. Table 3.16 shows the patents granted and applied for in Malaysia during the period between 2000 and 2005. The number of patents applied for by residents increased from 206 in 2000 to 322 in 2002 and the patents granted during the same period also showed an increased from 24 to 32: whilst this only demonstrates a modest pattern of

Country 2000 2002 2004 2006 2008 2010 Japan 91,499 89,986 98,364 108,528 107,658 113,246 Korea 16,807 20,218 29,386 39,381 47,247 55,546 Taiwan 12,575 14,440 20,204 26,795 32,653 37,436 Singapore 5,003 5,537 6,289 10,232 11,468 13,913 Malaysia 955 1,087 1,529 2,118 3,457 6,695


growth it still symbolised an important positive trend.

Table 3.16

Patent and Utility Innovations Applied and Granted from 2000 until 2005


Patent Applied Patent Granted

Resident Non-resident Total Resident Non-resident Total

2000 206 6,021 6,227 24 381 405

2001 271 5,663 5,934 18 1,452 1,470

2002 322 4,615 4,937 32 1,460 1,492

2003 376 4,686 5,062 31 1,547 1,578

2004 522 4,920 5,442 24 2,323 2,347

2005 522 5,764 6,286 37 2,471 2,508

Source: Data compiled from the table that showing ‘Patent and Utility Innovations Applied and Granted in Malaysia from 1986 until July 2009’ from the Intellectual Property Corporation of Malaysia (2009) website.

Note: A patent is an exclusive right granted for an invention, which is a product or a process that provides a new way of doing something, or offers a new technical solution to a problem. A utility innovation is an exclusive right granted for a minor invention which does not require satisfying the test of inventiveness as required of a patent.