KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 15 (Bernama) -- To address the shortage of scientific talent in the country, the government will do whatever it takes and provide financial support for university research, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.
He said Malaysia needed more scientists, researchers, innovators and pioneers in the science and technology sector.
"In terms of manpower, to date, Malaysia had only achieved 18 per cent of the Ninth Malaysia Plan which targets to have 60 researchers, scientists and engineers for every 10,000 people in the workforce.
"The government is willing to do whatever it takes to address the shortfall in scientific talent, besides providing appropriate institutional and financial support for research in universities," added Najib.
The prime minister said this in his message in the souvenir programme for the 16th Malaysia Toray Science Foundation (MTSF) prize presentation Tuesday.
Najib said the sacrifices and long hours of hard work put in by scientists and researchers needed to be supported and encouraged for both public and private entities.
Najib said the government wished to see Malaysians equipped with contemporary skills and the right mindset to face the challenging future of the rapidly-changing world.
To build the knowledge-based economy, greater emphasis would be given to development programmes involving technology, innovation and discovery-driven.
"Being a critical part in this endeavour, research and development will remain inconsequential, as long as they remain on bookshelves and stay uncommercialised," he noted.
The MTSF prize was established since 1993 by the Japan-based Toray Industries to contribute to the progress and advancement of science and technology in Malaysia.
This year's top science and technology awards were presented to Prof Dr Ong Seng Huat and Prof Dr Tan Nget Hong, both from Universiti Malaya, who received RM30,000 each from MTSF chairman Tan Sri Law Hieng Ding.
Dr Ong, who heads the Institute of Mathematical Sciences, said the development of a country's economy and industry depended to a great extent on the prowess of its scientific advancement and innovation.
Feted for his research on image analysis and stochastic modelling, he said the research environment had become increasingly conducive, yet more challenging due to globalisation.
"Not only has the world economic axis shifted to the Pacific region but also the scientific axis. In recent years, we see a great number of research papers from this region appearing in top scientific journals.
"This is the reflection of the keen competition among countries in the Pacific Region to advance their economy and industry, and against this backdrop, it is imperative that applied fundamental scientific research in Malaysia should be given impetus," Dr Ong said in his speech.
Dr Tan, who is from the Department of Molecular Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, was recognised for his research on toxinology of snake venom, proteins and enzymology and medical education.