Moulding a Malaysian laureate of global stature

In 1998, then Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad threw the gauntlet to the Malaysian scientific community to strive for scientific excellence and produce a Nobel Laureate by 2020. With six years to go, are we on track to meet the challenge?

AIMING to be a Nobel winner calls for a lot of patience and perseverance.

It is another form of entrepreneurship where not unlike the business entrepreneur, you must be willing to take risks and you must be ready to fail, Academy of Sciences Malaysia (ASM) chief executive officer Dr Ahmad Ibrahim explained.

He added that while we have some scientific talents, many have left to work overseas where the research environment is more conducive, especially in basic and fundamental research.

We tend to give more emphasis to applied research here because of the urgency to create wealth from science rather than to really contribute towards the advancement of scientific knowledge, he said.

“This will change as the country moves towards a developed country status. By then we should be able to fund more long-term basic science than the short-term science just to create wealth.”

Welcoming former premier Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s challenge for the nation to produce a Nobel winner by 2020, Dr Ahmad pointed out that realistically, we have less than seven years to make it.

Setting the mark

“So far we have not seen any promising Nobel research but at least by setting the challenge, scientists have been alerted to their mission,” he said.

“This is a good start. If we look at past winners of the Nobel prize, all took many years of scientific research before they eventually made the kind of breakthrough deserving of such a prestigious award.

by Christina Chin.

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