Bandar Seri Begawan - Former Malaysian Prime Minister Tun Hj Abdullah bin Hj Ahmad Badawi yesterday underlined that the Muslim world lacks quality human capital to develop Islamic civilisation, and also called for the utilisation of the vast natural resources in our pristine forest of the Heart of Borneo (HoB) to develop biotechnology.
In delivering his keynote speech entitled `Understanding Islam, Developing Civilisation' in his capacity as chairman of Malaysia's Institute of Islamic Understanding (IKIM) during a joint seminar by the Sultan Omar All Saifuddien Centre for Islamic Studies (SOASCIS) Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD) and IKIM, the former prime minister noted quality human capital is lacking in our Muslim world, particularly in research, science and technology, and other fields.
"Our universities have yet to achieve the aspirated human capital. Many of our young Muslim scientists are stationed in the US and Europe and are not willing to come back to the motherland, giving out reasons that our universities do not give them satisfaction in carrying out research in many fields.
"There are also constraints to conducting research in that their works are not readily accepted. With the lack in human capital, it becomes a barrier to our development.
"We should upgrade our knowledge provided in schools to multiply the number of professors. I am not saying that we don't have experts in Science. There are experts, but in small amounts. Even our universities lack the number of professors," he said.
He also stressed on the importance of biotechnology explaining we should make use of the rich natural resources to carryout research.
"Resources to build new industrial development in the future are available, like in the Heart of Borneo (HoB), which has more natural resources than in the Amazon forest. It all depends on us. If we are determined, we can succeed and enrich the industry" he said.
Tun Hj Abdullah also said that based on close relations between civilisation and religion, we should start with efforts towards strengthening the community's understanding on religious policies.
This is where Islamic institutions like Malaysia's Institute of Islamic Understanding (IKIM) and Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD) come to arrange strategies to explain about Islam towards civilization. He also expressed hopes such ties through yesterday's event would drive towards such similar aspiration.
He said; the signing of an MoU between the two institutions in upgrading research, exchange of ideas and findings and organising seminars, could multiply serious cooperation between both countries as a whole. It would also speed-up efforts to build towards civilisation we are aspiring for,
In relation to civilisation, he noted the Islamic community is far left behind in science and technology compared to other communities. This is the core challenge facing the Islamic community. This seminar on current issues affecting Muslims is part of efforts to answer the question and face challenges.
"I am convinced that if the Muslim community could get back to understanding Islam truly, they could return the glory of Islam to its real place. Islam is a guideline that could give answers to current issues facing the Islamic community in important areas and modern life such as science and technology, economy, finance, education politic, law, administration and community.
"As a true religion, Islam has the answers. Among the matters that should be taken into consideration by Islamic communities and leaders are efforts to widen knowledge in various fields. Creativity, innovation and culture should flourish to become a basis in the development of knowledge.
"Islamic countries should explore strategic fields like biotechnology that become the basis for modern society, such as medicine, food, cosmetics and so on, based on the rich natural resources of Islamic countries.
"Islamic countries have the potential to be the base for many activities on science and technology and contribute to the civilisation.
Constructing civilisation cannot happen in a year or so, but should be built with strong framework... it should be based on substance," he said.
Also present at the talk were Minister of Education Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Kerna Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Hj Awg Abu Bakar bin Hj Apong; Minister of Home Affairs Pehin Udana Khatib Dato Paduka Seri Setia Ustaz Hj Awg Badaruddin bin Pengarah Dato Paduka Hj Awg Othman, foreign envoys and senior officers from the Ministry of Education and UBD.
Following the talk, a MoU was signed between UBD and IKIM in the presence of Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Kerna Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Hj Awg Abu Baku, who is also the chairman of UBD Council and Tun Hj Abdullah.
Signing for SOASCIS was Associate Professor Dr Azman Ahmad, who is also the Assistant Vice Chancellor (Academic Affairs) and Interim Director of SOASCIS, and IKIM Director General Datuk Nik Mustapha Hj Nik Hassan.
The MoU serves as a basis for cooperation, collaboration and strengthening ties in research, education and in training programmes of mutual interest. SOASCIS hopes to further develop collaborative research with IKIM which will lead to publications, fieldwork for joint research and short courses.
--Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin