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THE 2017 Budget, which was unveiled recently, introduced a new element to chart the nation’s future. Branded TN50, the idea was well received and timely.

TN50 (Tranformasi Nasional 2050) will continue the nation’s planning for the future after Vision 2020. It was created to drive national discourses on the future of the country, and who better to engage and anchor such an initiative than our youth? This is why the initiative is parked under the Youth and Sports Ministry.

Kudos to the government for this important and strategic initiative. It is all about sustainable development. How can we prepare and sustain the nation’s wellbeing and progress as we approach 2050? By then, we should aim to remain a competitive and developed nation exceeding the targets articulated under Vision 2020.

Admittedly, the world is under all kinds of threats and challenges. Take climate change, for example. Though there are still sceptics around, including the new United States president-elect, data staring at us cannot lie. Many are convinced that global warming is mankind’s biggest threat. We are equally vulnerable to climate change. Agriculture may be seriously impacted, not to mention threats posed by extreme weather to the population. How we deal with climate change should become a key agenda of TN50.

At the Fellow Academy of Sciences Malaysia, we started a similar futuristic platform for science. The idea was the brainchild of one of our presidents, Tan Sri Dr Yusof Basiron. We branded the programme MegaScience 2050. What we did was start with a projection of what will happen to the nation’s many key industries by 2050. Can they be sustained? What would it take to sustain them? What will happen to the palm oil industry? What will happen to the electronics sector and the other industries which support the nation’s economy? The industries that have already been evaluated using the MegaScience framework, include construction, car, plastics, tourism and transport. The projection has been guided by the scenarios that many foresight studies have forecasted. Evidently, there are many groups in the world which regularly conduct foresight studies. We only need to pick the relevant ones for the sectors we are looking at.

Unlike TN50, which would eventually recommend actions needed to sustain the nation’s development as a whole, studies under MegaScience 2050 are meant to propose action plans on the nation’s development in science to support the sustained growth of the many key industries. Phase One looked at five sectors — water, energy, health, agriculture and biodiversity.

Science and technology are two key success factors of the future. TN50 will be incomplete if the discourses among the youth do not address the issues of science education as well as science research and development. We are still grappling to resolve many such science-related issues.

TN50 is larger than just science. The discussions will have to include how the nation will deal with the issues of urbanisation, rural urban migration, environmental degradation, urban poverty, wealth distribution, social integration and a host of issues related to the sustained wellbeing of the nation as a whole.

Academy of Sciences Malaysia
UCSI University fellow

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