- Category: About
B.Agr.Sc., Ph.D (La Trobe), MPEP (Harvard), SPDK, DGSM, PGDK, ASDK
The Honourable Datuk Seri Panglima Dr. Maximus Johnity Ongkili is of KadazanDusun descent and was born on October 26, 1953 in Jesselton (now known as Kota Kinabalu) in the state of Sabah. He grew up with nine other male siblings, and his father was a policeman and mother a housewife.
Despite only starting schooling at the age of 10, his capabilities, discipline and determination saw Datuk Seri Panglima Dr. Maximus Johnity Ongkili winning the prestigious Colombo Plan Scholarship to study in Australia. He returned home in 1985 with a Degree in Agricultural Science and PhD in Agricultural Economics from the La Trobe University. He was made a Distinguished Alumni of the university in April 2009.
Upon his return to Malaysia, Datuk Seri Panglima Dr. Maximus Johnity Ongkili worked as a lecturer with Universiti Pertanian Malaysia (now known as Universiti Putra Malaysia) and later held senior research positions with the Institute of Strategic and International (ISIS) Malaysia (1985-1987). He was Executive Director/CEO of the Institute of Development Studies (Sabah) from 1991 to 1994.
Datuk Seri Panglima Dr. Maximus Johnity Ongkili also completed fellowship and summer programmes at the United Nations University (Tokyo), Harvard Institute for International Development (HIID), Boston and Oxford University SAID Business School.
His foray into politics began in early 1994 when he was nominated to stand as a Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) candidate in the Sabah State Election where he won the state seat of Langkon. In the party, he was made PBS Secretary-General before being elevated to his present post of PBS Deputy President in October 1994.
He has been MP for Kota Marudu in Sabah since 1995, and a three-term member of the Sabah State Legislative Assembly from 1994 to 2008. He is Chairman of the party's Disciplinary Committee and also heads the party's Research and Training Bureau. He is also currently Deputy President of the Kadazan-Dusun Cultural Association (KDCA) Sabah.
Datuk Seri Panglima Dr. Maximus Johnity Ongkili was first appointed into the Federal Cabinet in 2004 when he was made Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department holding the portfolio of national unity and integration, from March 2004 to March 2008. After the March 2008 General Election, he was given the post of Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation. He retained the Kota Marudu parliamentary seat in the March 5, 2013 general election and was made Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister.
Prior to his appointment as a Federal Minister, he served as Science & Technology Advisor to the Chief Minister of Sabah (2003-2004). He also served two terms as member of the Public Accounts Committee both in Parliament and the Sabah Legislative Assembly.
Other posts he held included member of the National IT Council (NITC), member of the National Service (NS) Advisory Board (2002-2004), Chairman of the Select Committee on National Unity and National Service (2004-2009) and Chairman of the Malaysian Crime Prevention Foundation (MCPF) from 2004 to 2008.
In October 2011, he was appointed by Parliament to head a nine-member Parliamentary Select Committee on electoral reforms which was tasked to find ways to improve the electoral process within a six-month period.
For his numerous contributions to the state of Sabah, he was awarded the second highest illustrious order Panglima Gemilang Darjah Kinabalu (PGDK) which carries the title "Datuk" by the Yang di-Pertua Negeri Sabah in 2002.
In conjunction with the 71st birthday of Melaka’s Yang di-Pertua Negeri Tun Mohd Khalil Yaakob on 10th October 2009, Datuk Seri Panglima Dr. Maximus Johnity Ongkili was conferred Melaka's highest award, Darjah Gemilang Seri Melaka (DGSM), which carries the title 'Datuk Seri'.
On Oct 1, 2011, he was awarded the Sabah state’s highest honour Seri Panglima Darjah Kinabalu (SPDK) which carries the title “Datuk Seri Panglima”, in conjunction with the Sabah Governor’s birthday.
As Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Datuk Seri Panglima Dr. Maximus Johnity Ongkili spearheaded the national innovation agenda and tasked to come up with inclusive actions combined with science, technology and innovation policies for all strata of society.
The year 2010 was declared Malaysia Innovative 2010, a year-long programme to promote the appreciation of science and innovation among all levels of society, which was spearheaded by the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI). Among others, he set up the Malaysian Innovation Foundation to capture grassroot innovations, implemented grassroot innovation programmes such as “Innovation Walk”, set up innovation centres and introduced a programme to apply technologies for the communities.
He was instrumental in accelerating Malaysia’s science, technology and innovation (STI) agenda with initiatives to ensure R&D remain competitive and at the forefront. These significant advances include the formation of the National Science and Research Council, the forthcoming Academy of Social Sciences Malaysia and The Sultan Mizan National Antarctica Research Foundation. For the latter, he was instrumental in Malaysia signing the International Antarctica Treaty that allows Malaysian scientists access to the vast potential of the Antarctic region.
He also spearheaded new high impact strategies to ensure the sustainability of the nation’s knowledge-driven economy such as through the launch of Malaysia’s Bioeconomy Transformation Programme and the Digital Economy strategy, besides launching the National Nanotechnology strategy and heading the investment committee for the National Innovation Agency and other technology-driven economic initiatives.
Datuk Seri Panglima Dr. Maximus Johnity Ongkili also initiated the National Institutes of Biotechnology Malaysia designed to accelerate world-class science through translational research. Under his stewardship, MOSTI formalised the National Bioethics Council to ensure societal wellbeing in the context of economic and technological development.
As a tribute to the distinctive role he played in making innovation the foundation of Malaysia’s economic and social transformation, the LimKokWing University of Creative Technology conferred him the Honorary Doctorate of Leadership in Innovation on Dec 17, 2011.
For epitomising excellent leadership in an era where science and technology are creating opportunities and solutions for society’s needs and aspirations, the Asia Metropolitan University bestowed him the Honorary Doctorate for Life Sciences in 2012.
Datuk Seri Panglima Dr. Maximus Johnity Ongkili is married to Datin Seri Joan Maluda and has two children - Rachel Jane and Andreas Jordan.