KUCHING: Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg has proposed to establish a Wood Technology Centre of Excellence in Sibu.
He encouraged University College of Technology Sarawak to establish smart partnerships with industries, especially key strategic sectors around Sibu to undertake research and innovation projects to prepare existing industries to face the coming opportunities and challenges.
“Sibu is the hub for our resource-based industries. We have major companies headquartered in Sibu such as RH (Rimbunan Hijau), WTK, KTS and Ta Ann and other industries.”
“I would like to propose that UCTS establish a Wood Technology Centre of Excellence in collaboration with Sarawak Timber Industry Development Cooperation (STIDC) and Sarawak Timber Association (STA) to support our timber industries to develop more innovative downstream wood products for the world market,” he said in his acceptance speech during the Second Convocation of UCTS, where he was conferred an honorary doctorate yesterday.
He said Sarawak’s timber industries need to undertake research and expand into the planted forest sector as it would not be sustainable if Sarawak continued to depend on natural forests.
“The Centre of Excellence can undertake research and support the introduction of new technologies and advanced processes in our timber industry for planted forests for it to be sustainable and continue to be a major economic contributor in Sarawak alongside many others.
“I will give my full support to strengthen our timber industries,” he said.
On UCTS, he said the institution has an excellent, beautiful and high-tech green campus that provides a environment conducive for teaching, learning and research.
“The state government has invested substantially to provide the excellent facilities for the benefit of our future generation. I am happy to be here and be part of UCTS and wish UCTS more success for the future,” said Abang Johari.
UCTS is 100 per cent owned by the state government of Sarawak. It was established to produce the skilled manpower required to support Sarawak’s industrialisation programme; provide access to quality higher education in the central region of Sarawak; and to support research and development activities to add value to the state’s vast bio-diversity resources.
“Our human capacity is of utmost importance as part of the ecosystem that we need to create to leapfrog from a conventional to a digital economy.
“Education with a focus on digital capability, innovation and creativity must therefore be at the centre of any long-term plan for Sarawak.
“I am glad to note that UCTS is already offering programmes of study in the fields of Software Engineering and Network Computing and has research activities in the areas of Cybersecurity and Drone Technology.
“I would like to encourage more of our young people to take up study courses and entrepreneurship opportunities that are related to the digital economy.
“The convergence of advanced communication technology, energy systems and automation is driving change in all spheres, including businesses. Industry 4.0 or the Fourth Industrial Revolution is now a global phenomenon. The only way for industries to compete in the future is by embracing technologies that are often very disruptive,” he said.