KOTA KINABALU: The management of Sabah’s resources, civil service and political situation are among the factors contributing to the state’s lacklustre economic performance, National Economic Action Council executive director Datuk Mustapa Mohamad said.
The present situation in the state also had something to do with leadership, he said when responding to a question from the floor as to whether Sabah’s uncertain economic situation was due to a number of factors including the two-year rotation of the chief minister's post.
Acknowledging that Sabah was once a wealthy state, he said Sabah had reached a “point of no return.”
Sabah, Mustapa said, was now in the same economic league as his native Kelantan, he told a dialogue at Universiti Malaysia Sabah here yesterday.
On another issue, Mustapa said more academic input was needed for government policies and planning.
Stating that academic input would increase credibility on the part of the Government, he said the NEAC was looking at setting up a platform to “formalise” the interaction between both groups.
“The flow of information between academics and Government needs to be improved,” Mustapa said.
There was much talent in Malaysian universities but they were not being fully utilised, he pointed out.
Citing an example, Mustapa said there were no scholars who could be immediately identified to assist the Government in border disputes with neighbouring countries.
He said the NEAC had recently completed an audit of universities as part of efforts to promote Malaysia as a centre for education excellence.
“Our target is to get more foreign students from the Middle East,” Mustapa said, acknowledging that countries such as Singapore were also promoting their tertiary educational institutions.
To a question from the floor, Mustapa said the Government recognised that the research efforts in biotechnology at local universities had commercial potential.
However, he said the physical development such as the construction of research centres did not match human resource development.
“We need to build a core of expertise in this field,” Mustapa said.
He added that better co-ordination was needed in research efforts at the various universities.
Mustapa said research on the country’s unemployment showed that some university graduates could not get jobs because they were only equipped with “general” skills.