Daim: Malays should do science, but love literature because easy to pass

Tun Daim Zainuddin says the Malays should enter science-based courses as robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) are the two important areas that Malaysia must focus on to compete globally. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Tun Daim Zainuddin says the Malays should enter science-based courses as robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) are the two important areas that Malaysia must focus on to compete globally. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 2 ― Many Malays are into studying literature because it is an “easy to pass” subject, according to Tun Daim Zainuddin.

The former finance minister who had briefly chaired an informal advisory panel to the Pakatan Harapan prime minister said the country’s biggest demographic group should enter science-based courses as robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) are the two important areas that Malaysia must focus on to compete globally.

“If we want to learn literature, it can be learnt. But to move forward, we need engineers, scientists,” he told broadcaster Astro Awani in an interview aired last night.

“That's why if we can, the Malays, now I'm speaking about the Malays, they love literature because it's easy to pass. However, they should be doing engineering and science,” he added.

Daim said he had spoken with industry players from the US, China, Japan and Australia and emphasised that AI and robotics is the future.

He acknowledged that Malaysia has many engineers, but said most prefer working overseas owing to the opportunities.

“If we have a designated area, they will all come back,” he said, and proposed creating a space similar to the Silicon Valley in the US.

In the hour-long interview, Daim also expressed his support for Sabah and Sarawak to be given autonomy to run their own affairs.

“If it was up to me, give them autonomy. If they can do it, God willing, they can do it,” he said.

But he suggested that state public service members from the two Borneo states be sent abroad to broaden their knowledge in public service and public policy.

“In Sabah, Sarawak, if its possible, send the civil servants for postgraduate [studies] overseas. Go learn how to manage, how to implement policies and all that. The more you send, the better, to get the exposure,” Daim said.

He said the UK is a suitable country to learn from as its administrative system is similar to Malaysia’s.