Sarawak looks to overseas cooperation to boost local R&D in infectious diseases, biomedical sciences

Abang Johari speaking at the Sarawak Day Celebration themed “Sarawak Gemilang untuk Semua” held at Sarawak Legislative Assembly Complex tonight (July 22, 2021).

By Lian Cheng

KUCHING, July 22: More foreign research institutions and companies will be roped in as part of the Sarawak’s government’s efforts to initiate research and development in infectious diseases and biomedical sciences.

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said towards that end, the Sarawak Research and Development Council (SRDC) has initiated Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) with the Australian National Phenome Center of Perth, Amili Pte Ltd of Singapore, and Cambridge Sparks of the United Kingdom to collaborate in the areas of biomedical sciences and human capital development.

These foreign research institutions and companies will be added to the State government’s current list of collaborators including Cambridge Academic of Therapeutic Sciences, University of Cambridge.

Local tertiary institutions such as Universiti Malaysia Sarawak and Swinburne University of Technology Sarawak will also be engaged by SRDC as research partners.

“In the future, we will explore engagement with universities such as the University of Oxford, perhaps to develop programmes to harness our rich biodiversity,” said Abang Johari during his speech at the Sarawak Day celebration themed “Sarawak Gemilang untuk Semua” (Sarawak achieving excellence for all) which was broadcast live earlier tonight.

Abang Johari had recently announced that a tropical research centre called the Sarawak Infectious Disease Centre (SIDC) will be established in Kota Samarahan with an allocation of RM200 million.

He had highlighted the plan which is a long-term measure to develop the State’s research and development capabilities should be given attention by the Sarawak government as it is also an integral part to ensure the success of Sarawak’s economy in the future.

He explained that as public health is a joint responsibility of the Sarawak and federal governments, the Sarawak government has taken upon itself to raise public awareness about infectious diseases and take measures to address diseases that are contagious.

“I believe that these initiatives will help to pave the way to enhance the research culture in Sarawak, leading to a vibrant bioeconomy, capitalising on our diverse cultures, and natural resources,” said Abang Johari. — DayakDaily