KUCHING: More research and development (R&D) efforts should be made towards coming up with solutions for the challenges faced by the underprivileged, says Science, Technology and Innovation Mi- nister Datuk Wilfred Madius Tangau.
He said the world’s “bottom billion” – the 1.4 billion people earning less than US$1.25 (RM4.85) a day – were marginalised from socio-economic progress and lacked access to education, affordable healthcare, water and electricity.
In Malaysia, he said, the Government was giving attention to the bottom 40% of households who earned a monthly income of less than RM3,000.
“R&D nowadays is very much motivated by commercial gains. We need to set our priorities right, be purposeful and come up with values-based solutions that can help the masses.
“For example, we need to increase investments towards generating accessible, reliable and affordable energy and water technologies. If it is accessible and affordable for the poor, it will also benefit the rest of us,” he said at the opening of the inaugural Global R&D Leaders and CEOs Forum here yesterday.
His speech was read by the ministry’s secretary-general, Datuk Seri Dr Noorul Ainur Mohd Nur.
Madius also said the ministry’s initiatives, such as offering research grants and partnering with international agencies, helped to reinforce inclusive, equitable and sustainable socio-economic growth.
For instance, he said, Malaysia participated in the Smart Village Initiative introduced by the Cambridge Malaysian Education and Development Trust and the European Academies Science Advisory Council in January this year.
“A workshop organised by the Academy of Sciences Malaysia and Universiti Malaysia Sarawak enabled stakeholders to gather input on technical, entrepreneurial and policy solutions to provide sustainable energy for the development of rural communities,” he said.
He urged the forum participants to work together to translate R&D into meaningful action towards achieving socio-economic change and sustainable development.
“The technologies we have today are no doubt impressive but we should work towards investing a similar level of energy and resources to develop solutions for the bottom billion,” he said.
The two-day forum, themed “Injecting Soul Into R&D”, was organised by the Academy of Sciences Malaysia.