CM: Pioneer batch of Yayasan Sarawak-sponsored Masters, PhD students to be revealed soon

GP Pusaka representative Datuk Henry Lau (left) exchanging MOU documents with Philip Choo (right), STA treasurer general in the presence of (from left) Assistant Minister of Urban Planning, Land Administration and Environment Datu Len Talif, SFC chairman Datu Dr Yusoff Hanifah, Abang Johari and Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan.

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KUCHING: Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg will soon reveal the first batch of students who will be sponsored by Yayasan Sarawak to undertake Masters and PhD courses.

The sponsorship will also involve undergraduate studies.

He said such sponsorships have been made possible because Sarawak timber players have agreed to the new premium rate of RM50 per cubic metre from RM0.80 previously for log exports.

Yayasan Sarawak usually puts aside about RM9 million per year for bursary and study loans.

With the new premium rate imposed on log exports, Abang Johari said the state has been able to send students for Masters and PhD studies to enhance research and development in the state.

To encourage research and development, he said Yayasan Sarawak will also be eyeing supporting scholarships for courses such as molecular engineering, cloud computing data analysis and cyber security.

Meanwhile, he said, he had already announced the sponsorship of RM4 million per year to sponsor 40 Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS) students to study medicine this morning.

Citing the example of Japan and China, he said for Sarawak to move forward, emphasis must be given to research and education.

On the part of the government, Abang Johari said in the coming November state legislative sitting, the state government will introduce a new bill that will establish “a research council where we will have regulation and coordination in terms of managing our research bodies and scientists”.

Abang Johari said this when officiating at the launch of the GeoDrone Initiative Gimmick at Sarawak Forestry Corporation Sdn Bhd (SFC) here this afternoon.

He also witnessed the exchange of Memorandum of Understanding documents between SFC and three other parties – UNIMAS, GP Pusaka Sdn Bhd and Sarawak Timber Association (STA).

Abang Johari also acknowledged the contribution of the forestry sector to Sarawak as it contributed much revenue to state coffers.

“In order to sustain this sector, we have to be very innovative on how to preserve and at the same time give value to this particular sector so that it is sustainable.

“Because of that, I have proposed to form industrial forests so that we don’t rely on primary forests. We have to keep our primary forests for the sake of balancing our environment.

“Therefore it is pertinent for us to look into our research and development and how to increase our forests by planting new species so that these trees can be a resource for us to get raw materials, for us to sustain our forestry sector,” he said.

He listed three prequisites for a sustainable forestry sector, namely catching illegal loggers, prosecuting them and involvement in research and development in forestry resources.

One of the ways to curb illegal logging is to use drones to detect illegal activities.

Presently, SFC has 60 drones.