Monday, June 21 2004

Boost for PhD holders

By Ashraf Abdullah and June Ramli

More than 3,000 PhD holders here stand to gain from Malaysia’s biotechnology ambitions and its desire to move up the technology ladder.
The Government is studying the possibility of sponsoring them for post-doctoral studies in biotechnology and other specific areas in leading institutions overseas.
It will also set up twinning programmes with laboratories employing Malaysians with the expertise the country needs, leading to more intensive collaboration with foreign scientists.
These are among plans in the "brain gain’’ programme to be submitted to the Cabinet next month by the Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry.
Minister Datuk Dr Jamaluddin Jarjis said incentives would also be offered to Malaysian scientists overseas to come home, but the priority was to mine the expertise of Malaysians wherever they were.
"We are looking at two methods," Jamaluddin said.
"One is to encourage them to be here physically, and two, getting bright minds to work for us remotely.
"This is a knowledge play, and to have access to their knowledge, they do not have to be present here always. We only need to be able to communicate with them and work on joint projects.
"We could consider twinning programmes with laboratories where there are Malaysians with the kind of expertise we need,’’ he said in an interview with the New Straits Times.
The Government has attempted to persuade skilled Malaysians to return home in the past, with limited success.
The principal drawback is in being unable to match the salaries of foreign-based Malaysians.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi announced the "brain gain" programme on April 30, noting that the Government was keen to collaborate with Malaysians and foreigners interested in sharing their expertise and skills.
On biotechnology, Jamaluddin said the Cabinet had asked his ministry to re-examine existing programmes. "The ministry is working on it and will present it to the Cabinet in the next few months."
The policy will cover various issues including infrastructure and incentives for foreign companies setting up their operations here. "We recognise that it will be years before we see the returns of investment in biotechnology. We will consider offering biotech industry players a Bill of Guarantees, as we have done for those in Information and Communication Technology Companies, nothing less."

Parent site: "Focus on Malaysia"