CYBERJAYA: When Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad served as the fourth prime minister, one of the “must go” functions in his annual calendar was a dialogue with high-tech industry players.
After being absent for 15 years, the players welcomed Dr Mahathir back warmly yesterday.
One of the points the Prime Minister made was how technology could be used to deal with waste “left by technology”.
“We know that food waste can be made into compost and it can degenerate,” he said.
“But what happens to our old gadgets – handphones, refrigerators? We can’t throw them in landfills or into the river and expect them to disappear.
“This issue must be dealt with seriously because while we search for advancement, we must keep the environment healthy and safe for everyone to live in,” he said during the Malaysian Industry-Government Group for High Technology Consultation Dialogue 2018. It was moderated by MIGHT chairman Tan Sri Dr Ahmad Tajuddin Ali.
Also present at the dialogue were Economic Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Azmin Ali, International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Darell Leiking and Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Minister Yeo Bee Yin.
Suggesting that the industry explored the “waste to wealth” business opportunity, Dr Mahathir said advanced technology could also be developed to resolve the “tech waste” problem.
“High-tech machines can be created to help identify this waste and separate it. If this can be done, this will help minimise disposals of such waste and we can minimise the effect on the environment,” he said.
Acknowledging the importance of research in the high-tech industry, Dr Mahathir said the government would look at ways to financially support such works but did not give any specific commitment.
“Another matter that needs to be resolved is to ensure products derived from research are marketed and sold so that people can benefit from it.
“Although some products need more time to be completed, those working on it should find easy and early use for your invention,” he said.
For example, the Prime Minister said India’s cashless transaction policy resulted in the need for its people to own a handphone to have an e-wallet.
“A phone with many and different applications is not needed for this. Just one with limited function, with which the owner can make calls, messages and cashless transactions is sufficient.
“This is what I mean by putting easy and early use of an invention to use,” he said.