Masa grant for UTAR academics

FOUR academics from Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR) have secured a grant each for their research proposals, which were among 134 submissions from 21 local and private universities.

Worth up to RM10,000 each, the Masa Policy Development Programme (MPDP) research grant was introduced with the aim to enable researchers and academics to provide competitive decisions and policy inputs to assist in the implementation of the ongoing National Recovery Plan (NRP) and governmental strategies post-Covid-19.

In addition to being awarded a grant, the successful applicants have the opportunity to publish their research reports in seven focus areas of strategies as outlined under the NRP as policy documents to be disseminated to national and international agencies handling public policy.

In her research titled “Assessing Organisational Resources for Post-Pandemic Resiliency and Employees’ Well-Being”, Faculty of Accountancy and Management (FAM) academic Dr Low Mei Peng will seek to understand organisational responses to the pandemic in terms of current practices and future plans, while assessing organisational resources, specifically economic capital, social capital, human capital and physical capital.

“The findings will serve as an input to propose practical recommendations to business organisations on the resources to be emphasised for organisational resilience; and to policymakers on the support required to assist business organisations with prompt recovery and crisis preparedness,” she said.

Another FAM academic, Dr Mohammad Falahat Nejadmahani, aims to explore and identify the drivers of big data analytics (BDA) capability that lead to the sustainability and superior performance of small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

Naming his research “BDA Capability Model for SMEs: Post-Covid-19”, he expressed excitement at receiving the grant from independent think tank Institut Masa Depan Malaysia (Masa).

“Being part of the MPDP enables us to propose policies that can be acknowledged and implemented by Malaysia’s policymakers. “This research will contribute to the industries that are still in the low value-added category with low adoption of high technology. Also, it will ultimately lead to the realisation of SMEs as the ‘game changers’ that transition the nation to a high-income economy.

“Our proposed model could help SMEs boost their performance in value creation, directly influencing the country’s gross domestic product and employability,” he said. Faculty of Information and Communication Technology (FICT) academic Dr Chang Jing Jing’s research is titled “Increasing Medical Specialists in Malaysia: Beware of Vicious Cycle.” It is aimed at identifying the leverage points in order to achieve a sustainable supply of medical specialists.

“In recent years, the Health Ministry has taken multiple initiatives to increase the number of medical specialists such as by expanding the medical graduate’s specialisation pathway.

“However, it is equally important to study the problems faced when increasing the number of medical specialists such as specialist training and our overloaded public healthcare system.

“It is hoped that the project can help to recommend policies that encourage a more sustainable supply of medical specialists,” she said.

Faculty of Business and Finance academic Kalai Vani Kalimuthu will focus on the main barriers faced by persons with disabilities (PWDs) in terms of participation in tourism.

In her research titled “Role of PWDs towards the Sustainability of the Tourism Sectors in Malaysia”, she will address the best strategy taken by travel agencies to ensure the accessibility of facilities for tourists with disabilities and at the same time, study the lacking existing policies to ensure the accessibility of facilities for tourists with disabilities.

“The travel choices made by PWDs are influenced by a desire for leisure, self-discovery, and accessibility. Beyond these intrinsic motivations, this study will discover a connection between travel agents and travel decisions made by PWDs who benefit from the availability of accessible travel options and vice versa. “The related government policy should encourage providing accessible facilities for disability tourism. It is a new opportunity to increase the number of tourists, besides recovering tourism sectors after the pandemic,” she shared. Masa brings together experts in the government and academia to provide quality research, policy recommendations and analyses on a full range of public policy issues, guided by the Malaysia’s Shared Prosperity Vision 2030.

Date: 6 March 2022


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