JOINT PRESS STATEMENT

 

  1. The 44th Meeting of the ASEAN Committee on Science and Technology (COST) was held in Kuala Lumpur on 11-13 September 2002.  The Meeting was attended by high level officials in science and technology from the ten member countries of ASEAN, as well as scientists, researchers and academics from the various institutions in the region.

 

  1. The Meeting was officially opened by H.E. Dato’ Hj. Zainal Dahalan, Deputy Minister for Science, Technology and the Environment of Malaysia.  In his opening address, the Deputy Minister stressed the importance of managing investments in Science and Technology to create the intellectual capital to support future high economic performance. He highlighted in particular the ASEAN-help-ASEAN scheme of COST, a programme designed to facilitate the integration of newer member countries of ASEAN, namely, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Viet Nam, into the mainstream of ASEAN S&T activities.

 

  1. Noting the increasing role of information technology in the work and daily lives of the people all over the world, he called on ASEAN COST to address the digital divide that separates not only the older ASEAN member countries from the newer ones, but also within each country, creates a gap between the digitally literate and illiterate.

 

  1. Seven out of the nine Sub-Committees of COST also met prior to the COST meeting.  The Sub-Committees that had their meetings have specialized concerns in the following areas: food science and technology; materials science and technology; marine science and technology; non-conventional energy research; microelectronics and information technology, science and technology infrastructure and resources development, and space technology applications.  The Sub-Committee on Meteorology and Geophysics met two weeks earlier in Petaling Jaya, while the Sub-Committee on Biotechnology will meet next month, also in Kuala Lumpur, in conjunction with the holding of Bio-Malaysia 2002.

 

  1. The Sub-Committees are subsidiary bodies of COST that design and implement cooperation projects in their respective technology or application areas of  concern, aiming towards S&T development and capacity building in the ASEAN member countries through policy development, human resource development and joint R&D activities.  The projects are implemented with ASEAN member countries in cooperation among themselves and with external partners.

 

  1. The Meeting reviewed the progress of the projects of the Sub-Committees and monitored their success in reaching the objectives of the ASEAN Plan of Action on Science and Technology for 2001-2004.  The Meeting noted the continuing trend of expanding cooperation areas with external partners of ASEAN.

 

  1. Two new programmes were recently initiated.  One is a four-year programme in seismology with China, a result of an initial workshop held in Beijing in July 2002.  The next activity under this programme will be an ASEAN-China Workshop on Earthquake Prediction Techniques, a short training programme for seismologists from ASEAN and China, to be held in December 2002.  The programme is to be jointly implemented by the China Seismological Bureau and the ASEAN Sub-Committee on Meteorology and Geophysics (SCMG).

 

  1. The other new programme is to be pursued with the Korea Meteorological Administration (KMA) as cooperation partner of the SCMG.  The programme focuses on human resource development in climate studies and prediction.  A number of training schemes, including research attachments, exchange visits and short training courses are being planned.

 

  1. ASEAN COST also has programmes that are funded from the resources of the member countries, through sharing of the costs of project implementation, or in some cases, one member country offers support using its national funds.  Under the ASEAN-help-ASEAN scheme, Malaysia announced at the meeting its offer of full support to two researchers each from the newer ASEAN member countries to attend the ASEAN Workshop on Food Risk Analysis which Malaysia will organize in Kuala Lumpur on 7-10 October 2002.   Malaysia will also expand to the ASEAN level a bilateral activity that it will organize with French collaboration, a workshop on visual systems and multimedia imaging technologies.  Two scientists from each ASEAN member country would be supported by Malaysia to attend the workshop in Sarawak on 21-23 April 2003.

 

  1. To reach the public better, COST is continuing the development of its website, the ASEAN Science and Technology Network (ASTNET), which will contain information about its programmes and activities, as well as databases on S&T facilities and expertise available in the region.  In the meantime, individual websites of some of the Sub-Committees provide information about their respective activities.  Information about the Sub-Committee on Food Science and Technology may be found at http://ascfst.biotec.or.th.  The Sub-Committee on Materials Science and Technology has a temporary homepage at http://www.sirim.my/amrec/aseancost/index.htm.  

 

  1. COST meets regularly twice a year.  The next meeting will be held in the Philippines in April 2003.