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Despite the failure of Malaysia's biotechnology sector to take off, the government is still optimistic that the industry will boom within five years. Biotechnology will become the driving force behind growth of the agriculture sector, prime minister Abdullah Ahmed Badawi has said.

In this article in New Straits Times, Chow Kun Hor seeks to explain why Malaysia's biotechnology sector is still lagging today and how the government plans to make it succeed.

The government's lack of a clear direction for biotechnology is a major reason why the sector did not attract investors, Chow argues. Other factors include competition from nearby countries, particularly Singapore, and a lack of trained workers.

The Malaysian government will need to provide more than just hardware if biotechnology is to take off successfully, say Chow's interviewees. It will have to give clear signals to investors, set up the necessary infrastructure and cooperate with neighbouring countries.

It will also need to carry out extensive research, provide support services, develop marketing strategies, address the shortage of skilled workers and provide teams of qualified managers.