Speech By Chief Minister Of Penang
At The Launch Of B. Braun Genetics Week
26 September 2016
I am delighted to join all of you at the launch of the B. Braun Genetics Week. First, let me begin by thanking B. Braun for always generously contributing to build the future of the youth of Penang. This time, B.Braun is stepping forward in a unique way to organize Genetics Workshops, run by a world-class German University, to inspire our youths and generate interest in the Genetic Sciences.
I understand that 248 students from the ages of 10 to 18 from 14 primary and secondary schools on Penang island and the mainland will be taking part in these Genetics Workshops. Why I sincerely appreciate B. Braun’s effort is because in 2009, the new Penang State Government then were made keenly aware that a key factor for Penang’s economic growth and success lies in the strength of our human talent, especially those specializing in the areas of science and technical-based subjects. We were alarmed at that time when we were told that interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, S.T.E.M., was fast declining among our students. The PISA rankings even put our 15 year Malaysian students behind Thailand and Vietnam.
We had to arrest that decline. So, the Penang State Government, schools and private sector companies formed a partnership in 2010 to promote science education and inspire the spirit of innovation among Penangites, especially among the young. The outcome of that public-private partnership is the Penang Science Cluster, which remains highly dynamic and continues to break new ground today.
Over the past 6 years since its inception, many initiatives have been successfully implemented under the banner of the Penang Science Cluster to spur interest in the STEM subjects, such as the Penang International Science Fair and the STEM education centres, also called the Science Cafes, which are bringing a positive impact to hundreds of schools, and thousands of students across the state, both on the island and the mainland.
Today, ladies and gentlemen, we are sitting in one of the STEM Science Cafes - the Penang Science Cafe @ Heritage which was inaugurated just last December last year, it has since become an Oasis of Learning for those thirsty for scientific knowledge, who comes through its door. As the Pillar Lead for Life Sciences and Medical Health under the Penang Science Cluster, B. Braun has generated a strong interest in the Biomedical Sciences through these Genetics Workshops.
Genetics is still a new, relatively unknown and largely untapped frontier of science in Malaysia. There are opportunities in basic and clinical research, in medical professions, even in patent law, agriculture, marine biology, food, education and the environment. If you watch the TV series, CSI, you will know that none of the cases could be solved without expertise in genetics! As genetic testing becomes more common, and a part of many routine medical evaluations, more laboratory geneticists will be needed to perform the tests, clinicians and counselors will be needed to interpret and explain the results to individuals and families, and doctors will be needed to treat them. The career options available to those trained in genetics are countless, and more importantly, geneticists can make a difference in the lives of people and society, through their discoveries.
As Penang grows its biomedical industry, we see a convergence with the existing world-class electronics cluster. Penang can become a leading knowledge cluster in Malaysia with our 3 T's of talent, technology and tolerance of new ideas. We are fortunate that B. Braun is willing to lend a hand to realise this aspiration.