Kuala Lumpur, 17 May 2019-A forum was held by the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS) and Geneva Network on 16th May, titled, “Promoting innovation in Malaysia Baharu: Shaping the government’s IP agenda”. The event presented two panels which discussed the Intellectual Property (IP) environment in Malaysia today, its place in the regional and global world and the issues and challenges faced by the country in terms of innovation.
Ong Boo Seng, Vice President of the Malaysian IP Association (MIPA) admits that even though Malaysia has very strong legislation when it comes to IP, the country is still lacking in enforcing these rights. According to Ong, inter-agency relations is one of the most urgent issues. He regrets the lack of integration and calls for the establishment of a single platform to bring together investors and researchers and allow a better connection between all parts. He also hopes that the government includes MIPA on policy consultation regarding IP.
Malaysia’s ranking and score in several indices have declined recently. 27th to 34th for IPRI and 19th to 24th out of 50 for IIPI).
According to the government manifesto, “The Pakatan Harapan Government will […] strengthen intellectual property protection so that companies can invest more in innovation activities.” But to date, relatively little has been done – according to IDEAS Projek Pantau, which tracks the government’s manifesto commitments.
The first panel included Amir Ullah Khan, Professor at Maulana Azad National University from India, Dr Kyungjin Song from the Innovative Economy Forum, Korea and Nigel Cory, Associate Director at The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (USA)
Nigel Cory emphasized on the importance of universities and governmental agencies as key actors to lead the innovation sector in Malaysia and gave some insights to reach a higher score in internationals ranking and improve the innovation sector of the country including creating incentives for investors to invest in risky and uncertain programmes or focusing on the healthcare sector.
Amir Ullah Khan focused his discussion on several points that involve IP: the reduction of inequality which goes with health and education and thus requires strong IP rights regulations, Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) inflows and outflows which are a strong indicator of how innovative the country is and in which Malaysia is doing well.
Finally, Dr Kyungjin Song concluded on the story of Korea and the role of IP rights in its economic development. She described the building of key institutions that allowed the country to focus largely on research and development and become a leader in the region. She called for international cooperation between Malaysia and Korea through knowledge-sharing programmes.
The title of the second panel was “Spurring innovation in Malaysia”. Panellists included Mohamed Ikhwan bin Shahdzul Bakri, Director at MyIPO, Azrul Mohd Khalib, Chief Executive Officer at Galen Centre for Health and Social Policy, Ong Boo Seng, Vice President of the Malaysian Intellectual Property Association and P. Kandiah, Founder and Director of KASS International.
According to Mohamed Ikhwan, three initiatives were put in place by MyIPO (Malaysia Intellectual Property Corporation): a technology and innovation centre support programme that aims to help researchers, lecturers and research institutes to use patent information databases; the Enabling the IP environment (EIE) project which connects IP experts from the US to universities here through remote mentorship programme and revival of the IPR Marketplace, an online portal to facilitate trading of IP rights.
Mohamed Ikhwan also mentioned that modernization and amendments of the Patent Acts were in discussion even though this was a very delicate process. Indeed, one flaw of this act today is that it allows a patent owner to abuse his rights by failing to supply the product in the market. Changes are to be expected.
The issues faced by Malaysia in its IP environment were then discussed by the other participants such the lack of adherence to the Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA) process or the waiting period necessary for the examination of the grant of patent. They were followed by a discussion around the legal system surrounding IP rights and the need to modernize it.
Azrul Mohd Khalib, confirmed the issues raised by Ong Boo Seng and stated that there was a lack of cooperation and information exchange across “governance silos”: today multiple advisory committees, councils, ministries, agencies etc. are engaged in Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) policy making, funding and implementation each with its own strategy, framework and policy instruments. He believes that rationalisation of Malaysia’s STI governance structure is needed to achieve better coordination across government and higher impact at a lower cost.
Finally, some suggestions were made by P. Kandiah from KASS international who emphasized the importance of raising global awareness on IP, not only among specialized industries but across the whole population through education programmes and national campaigns. He also called for the promotion of R&D outcomes in media and global markets.
As a conclusion, Ali Salman remarked: “It is in Malaysia’s best interest to ensure an environment of respect and protection of intellectual property rights to enhance its competitiveness and securing a place among the family of knowledge-based economies.”