The priorities of innovation policymakers in Malaysia
A forward-looking, holistic and cohesive approach
Policies are sometimes a knee-jerk reaction to a certain event, rather than taking a holistic approach. This can result in policies which become irrelevant quickly. The short time frame policymakers are given can lead to superficial stakeholder engagement sessions, where facilitators seem to be ‘telling’ more than ‘listening’.
A more connected ecosystem is needed, with better collaboration on policy formulation and efforts to address newer challenges faced by the country.
“Policies are sometimes designed over such short periods that there is insufficient time for an in-depth study and proper engagement of stakeholders.”
Equally robust policy formulation, implementation and evaluation
Policy design is robust; however, implementation can be limited by insufficient cross-ministry collaboration or a lack of monitoring, KPIs and evaluation parameters to measure impact effectively.
There is also a clear need for the country to shift its approach towards maximising research and data which have been aggregated.
“We need to be very clear of the outcome for the programme. It should have a tangible output where impact can be measured.”
Greater collaboration between ministries
There is an awareness that smart policymaking requires a more collaborative approach from various ministries. Therefore, a clear framework or policy towards a more collaborative approach between various ministries and agencies, for data-sharing and policymaking is needed.
For instance, a significant stumbling block to more evidence-based or data-based policymaking appears to be a willingness to share data by the various agencies/ministries, presumably because there are no clear guidelines on the matter.
Human resources training and capability building
Policymaking should be an ‘expertise’ with formal training and some kind of ‘professional qualification’ associated with this. A more systematic approach towards policymaking is needed, with a clear methodology to develop the capability of policymakers.
Effective use of people and skills
Policymakers are sometimes placed in areas that are not relevant to their expertise, where they may not be able to apply their insights as effectively.
“I was trained in a different area. I am working on policies in subjects which I am not familiar with. Once I was back from training, I was sent to another ministry, just to fill in a job grade vacancy.”
“We have highly educated government officials however, they are not placed in functions where their knowledge can be maximised.”
More generally, deeper understanding of the corporate sector could help to make policy design in this area more effective, while greater stability in administration roles and longer-term placements could help policymakers continue to share valuable insights throughout the lifetime of a programme.
“We don’t stay long enough to see through the implementation of the policy (that we helped design), and those who take over from us do not have the in-depth background knowledge which led to the policy design.”
Exposure to other practices
Finally, more opportunities to share lessons and experiences with their counterparts – innovation policymakers – in other countries was welcomed.