Biotech hub finally takes off after long delay


  • Nation
  • Wednesday, 21 May 2003

BY MERGAWATI ZULFAKAR

PUTRAJAYA: After much delay and many problems besetting Malaysia’s “BioValley,” the project was finally launched yesterday – setting the wheel in motions towards making the country a key player in biotechnology. 

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad performed the groundbreaking ceremony of the project in Dengkil near here. 

The project will consolidate all on-going biotechnology initiatives using Malaysia’s rich natural resources and flora and fauna. It will also assist, co-ordinate and promote commercialisation of research findings and products of the stakeholders. 

Dr Mahathir admitted in his speech that the project was scheduled to start earlier but was faced with many obstacles, which took time to settle. 

Asked to elaborate on the problems during a press conference later, Dr Mahathir said the project was originally given to a developer who claimed he could carry out the project. 

“But he could not afford to, he has too many debts. He did not allow us to resolve the problems. We were not even allowed to enter the land. 

“So, we have to acquire another piece of land. But there is still problem (as to) who is responsible for what. All these things are unnecessary obstacles, impeding the development of this project. Other countries have gone far ahead. We are very slow,” he said.  

Asked if he was confident the project would take off, he replied, “If it doesn't take off, we are going to go after them (those responsible).” 

In his speech, the Prime Minister said Malaysia with its luscious tropical forests had enormous resources to be tapped. 

“With advances in science, it is possible for scientists to extract numerous products that contribute to the well-being of mankind like medicine and food products.  

“We need foreign scientists and hope foreign companies will invest, provided that they are willing to share the results of their research and development,” he said in reference to efforts in other countries where outsiders claim certain products as their own when the resources were taken from some other places. 

Dr Mahathir said Malaysia was distressed with the wars and killings that took place lately. 

“We hope with BioValley, we can contribute towards saving human lives and improving humanity throughout the world. We hope our contribution will be significant towards improving the quality of life,” he added.  

Dr Mahathir said the first phase of the project would cost RM100mil involving an agro-biotechnology institute, pharmaceutical and nutraceutical institute and genomics and molecular biology institute covering some 50ha.  

Science, Technology and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Law Hieng Ding said Selangor, Sarawak, Malacca and Penang had set up satellites to the hub. 

“Companies need not necessarily have to be based in Dengkil, which will be the referral centre,” he added. 

Selangor Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Mohamad Khir Toyo said University Industry Selangor would use 12.5ha at BioValley to set up a biotechnology faculty and business directorate.  

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