NEW YORK - The country must always be prepared for external shocks that are beyond its control and maintain the forward momentum to stay on track to becoming a high-income nation by 2020.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said that despite being in an age of great technological innovation and increased opportunity, the country was still at the mercy of often unpredictable global economic factors.
"The current volatile economic situation being faced by us in Malaysia and the rest of the world is a case in point," he said in his opening address at the Global Science and Innovation Advisory Council's (GSIAC) 5th annual meeting here.
GSIAC was set up to boost Malaysia's efforts in science and innovation, using science to help advance the "high income economy" agenda in Malaysia.
Chaired by the prime minister, it comprises global industry leaders from cutting-edge fields, prominent academicians, as well as members from the New York Academy of Sciences (NYAS), with Malaysian corporate leaders and officials from key ministries.
The prime minister said that while there was modest growth in the global economy, heightened uncertainty and volatile financial markets as well as the sharp fall in the price of petroleum and other primary commodities, it was not all bad news.
He reiterated that the fundamentals of the Malaysian economy remained strong, as supported by five indicators.
There was a five per cent growth rate, a reduced negative fiscal deficit with strong capitalisation and ample liquidity in the financial system, and positive results from the transformation programmes like the 1.8 million new jobs since the launch of the Economic Transformation Programme in 2010.
At the end of Najib's speech, everyone present spent a minute of silence in memory of one of the architects of GSIAC, the late Tan Sri Dr Jamaluddin Jarjis or JJ as he was affectionately called.
After a short video of the times Dr Jamaluddin had spent with the council over the last five years, the prime minister paid tribute to his "very dear friend and someone who has done much for the nation".
Later, at a high tea gathering for students and Malaysians organised in conjunction with the prime minister's visit, Malaysian ambassador to US Senator Datuk Dr Awang Adek Hussin also paid tribute to JJ, saying his shoes were too big to fill and his absence was always felt at such events.
Najib echoed his sentiments and shared that he had known JJ since 1973 when they were both students.