TBY and Make It Right Host Forum on Innovation

TBY held a forum on innovation in partnership with the Make It Right Movement—an NGO powered by Brickfields Asia College. The keynote address was delivered by Dato’ Sri Idris Jala, CEO of the Performance Management and Delivery Unit (PEMANDU) and former Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, CEO of Malaysia Airlines, and country head of Shell Malaysia.

The topic was “Innovation as a Driver for Local Economic Empowerment.” Jala strongly emphasized that innovative techniques for governance were commonly used within the public sector, and that innovation was among the government’s top priorities. PEMANDU has organized laboratories to bring the private sector into direct dialogue with government officials on how to solve concrete issues including transport and power generation and distribution.

Mr. Raja Singham, Founder of the Make It Right Movement, outlined the challenges facing educators across the country and elaborated his perspective on inclusive growth and improving access to education. He also emphasized legal and regulatory issues that the education sector faces and joined Jala in critiquing the status quo and suggesting alternative directions forwards.

The starting point for the roundtable discussion was the balance between public and private investment in Malaysia, and the role of innovation as a driver of global competiveness. Having a confident private sector that is responsible for the majority of investment is one of the preconditions of becoming a high-income economy, Jala pointed out, but an innovative economy is composed of public and private sectors working together. To reflect the complexity of Malaysia’s economy, the panel included a wide range of actors, both state led and private.

From the public sector, the roundtable included Datuk Phang Ah Tong, Deputy CEO of MIDA, and
Mr. Wan Latiff Wan Musa, Head of Strategic Planning Division at MATRADE. Mr. Mohamed Azli, COO of GE Malaysia, gave the perspective of a multinational with vast experience in Malaysia in a variety of sectors, while Datuk Ir. Khairil Anwar Ahmad, Managing Director of Medini Iskandar, and Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Ahmad Ramli Mohd Noor, Managing Director, Boustead Heavy Engineering Corporation were present in the panel as Malaysian private companies with strong governmental backing.

Datuk Phang set the stage by pointing out innovation is pivotal for Malaysia to stay ahead of regional competitors—especially with Vietnam—and emphasized education and human capital development as key drivers of innovation.

Datuk Khairil outlined the growth of Medini Iskandar, a township that is currently under development in the south of Peninsular Malaysia and is being constructed as a Smart City. Building this concept as a green field project means innovation by default, he explained, and that the township’s proximity to Singapore would create a two-way exchange of people and ideas between the nations.

Tan Sri Ramli mentioned that BHIC committed to the objective of training 1,000 maritime engineers in the upcoming years to bridge academia and industry and to support the nations’ manufacturing economy. Likewise Mr. Wan Latiff expressed that the ecosystem for young entrepreneurs could be enhanced to drive the innovation agenda and to support SMEs to go abroad.