Miri – 24 January 2014 – Datuk Haji Chaiti Haji Bolhassan, Permanent Secretary at the Sarawak Ministry of Rural Development, and Ramdan Baba, Principal Assistant Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Rural Development, visited Curtin University, Sarawak Malaysia (Curtin Sarawak) recently to hear and discuss Curtin Sarawak’s bid for funding of its Rural Development Plan which was presented by Professor Clem Kuek, Dean of R&D and Acting Director, Curtin Sarawak Research Institute.
Also attending were Professor Yudi Samyudia, Deputy Pro Vice-Chancellor of Curtin Sarawak, and Alex Chung, the university’s Director of Government and Corporate Affairs; Assistant Director Andrew Wang and Engineer Sidney Wee of Jabatan Kerja Raya (JKR); and Goh Chin Chai, Senior Manager, Renewable Energy, Sarawak Energy Berhad.
The Curtin Sarawak plan is an integrated approach to the development of rural communities where, after the initial introduction of electrification via micro-hydro or solar energy, other initiatives can follow.
Two sites, one in Ulu Lawas and the other in Ulu Baram, have been selected for electrification. Integrated into the plan is the provision of town-grade water and tagangs for high value indigenous fish.
This first phase will cost RM9.4 million and its implementation will draw on the expertise of the Departments of Civil & Construction, Electrical & Computer and Mechanical Engineering at Curtin Sarawak. Sidney Wee of JKR will be the project advisor.
Follow-up initiatives enabled by the establishment of the supply of electricity will be the marketing of Geographical Indication Borneo highland rice, the plan for which will be developed through a collaboration between the state Department of Agriculture and Curtin Sarawak’s School of Business.
A fish business for harvests from mature tagangs is a project which will involve the inland fisheries section of the state Department of Agriculture, LTT Aquaculture Sendirian Berhad and Curtin Sarawak’s School of Business.
There are plans for green septage treatment by Curtin Sarawak’s Department of Civil & Construction Engineering and even the prospect of a bottled drinking water business with contributions from the Departments of Applied Geology and Chemical & Petroleum Engineering, and the School of Business.
According to Professor Kuek, Curtin Sarawak is expanding its engagement with the region and, even though the Rural Development Plan is initially a corporate social responsibility project involving volunteer staff and students from all areas of the university, there will be plenty of opportunities for R&D in follow-on activities which require information before implementation can take place.
He added that an example of research associated with the plan is the socio-economic impact study of communities before and after the introduction of 24/7 electricity by staff in the community engagement module of the plan.
“Curtin Sarawak has received great support from the state Ministry of Rural Development for its backing of the plan and in getting it heard at the federal level. For this we are extremely grateful for the work of Datuk Chaiti,” said Professor Kuek.
Curtin Sarawak now awaits a decision on funding.
For more information on Curtin Sarawak, visit its website at www.curtin.edu.my, its Facebook page at facebook.com/CurtinUniversitySarawakMalaysia, Twitter profile at twitter.com/curtinsarawak, YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/user/CurtinUniSarawak, or Instagram at instagram.com/curtinsarawak.