Bandar Seri Begawan: In order to effectively contribute towards Asean Community Building 2015, the Asean Committee on Science and Technology (Asean COST) should remain relevant in the ever-rapid changing field of science, technology and innovation (STI) to meet the growing needs of the people and the emerging needs of the global economy.
Dato Paduka Awang Haji Suhaimi bin Haji Gafar, Permanent Secretary (Technical & Professional), at the Ministry of Development, delivered his remarks as the outgoing Asean COST Chairman during the opening ceremony of the 66th Asean COST meeting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia followed by the handover of Asean COST Chairmanship from Brunei Darussalam to Malaysia.
In his speech, the Permanent Secretary (Technical & Professional) highlighted the various progress and achievements made by Brunei Darussalam during its tenure as Asean COST Chairman from November 2012 until 2013.
He stressed that during Brunei Darussalam's Chairmanship, efforts were focussed to ensure a clear line of reporting and remove the existing anomaly in regards to the placement of Asean COST in the Asean Economic Community (AEC) and Asean Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC).
Both the AEC and ASCC Councils have approved the placement of Asean COST in AEC in 2015 and subsequently the alignment of the new Asean Plan of Action on Science, Technology and Innovation (APASTI 2015- 2020) to support the AEC Blueprint whilst not abandoning its priorities in social development. This would evidently steer COST to place greater emphasis in developing projects that leverages on Science, Technology and Innovation towards driving economic growth and Asean's competitiveness. Dato Paduka Awg Haji Suhaimi also highlighted that following the 7th Informal Asean Ministerial Meeting on Science and Technology (IAMMST-7) held last December in Bandar Seri Begawan, Asean COST has also endorsed the holistic study to determine how the restructuring or reorganisation of COST, through the establishment of clusters, according to the thematic thrusts of the Krabi Initiative could be effectively implemented.
In terms of dialogue partner relations, Dato Paduka Awg Haji Suhaimi recognised Brunei Darussalam's contributions and achievements towards enriching science and technology cooperation with People's Republic of China, European Union and the United States of America. Under Brunei Darussalam's stewardship, S&T cooperation with the People's Republic of China reached a milestone with the convening of the 1st Asean-China Ministerial Meeting in September 2012 in Nanning which was co-chaired by Brunei Darussalam on behalf of Asean and the People's Republic of China, and the launching of China-Asean Science and Technology Partnership (STEP) Programme.
Furthermore, recognising the serious intent of China to cooperate with Asean, Asean COST will soon formalise its S&T cooperation with the finalisation of Asean-China MoU on Science and Technology.
Asean-US dialogue relations on S&T are also progressing well with the launching of several Asean-US joint activities most notably the Asean-US Fellowship programme, Innovation in Science through Partners and Regional Engagement (INSPIRE) initiative, the US-Asean Women Science Prize and the Asean-US S&T Fellows Pilot Programme.
Relations between Asean COST and the European Union (EU) have prospered and commemorated by the "Asean-EU 2012 Year of Science, Technology and Innovation (YoSTI)". It involves a high level science policy visit by National COST Chairmen to Brussels in December last year. It provided the platform for dialogues between COST and the European Commission's Director Generals as well as better insights on the mechanisms for S&T cooperation with the EU, under the 7th European Union Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development (FP7), South East Asian-European Union Network (SEA-EU-NET) and the Regional EU-Asean Dialogue Instrument (READI).
The one-day meeting for the 66th Asean COST will discuss matters arising from the 23rd Asean Summit & 65th COST meeting, reviewing the annual planning of the Asean Science Fund (ASF) utilisation and amendments of ASF guidelines to support more innovation-driven initiatives, the establishment of Asean - Network for Drugs, Diagnostics, Vaccines; and Traditional Medicine Innovation (Asean-NDI) Secretariat, the establishment of Scientific Standards for Asean, the progress of the development of the new APASTI 2015-2020 as well as preparation meeting with dialogue partners for science and technology cooperation namely the 10th Meeting of the Asean-India Working Group on Science and Technology (AIWGST-10), 6th Meeting of the Asean-Russia Working Group on Science and Technology (ARWGST-6), 4th Meeting of the Asean-Japan Cooperation Committee on Science and Technology (AJCCST-4), 1st Meeting of the Asean-ROK Joint Science and Technology Committee (Asean-ROKJSTC-1) and the 6th Asean COST Plus Three Meeting.
Officiating the opening ceremony of the 66th Asean Committee on Science and Technology and witnessing the handingover ceremony by Brunei Darussalam to Malaysia was Datuk Dr Ewon Ebin, the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI) Malaysia. The meeting preceded with the 7th Asean Ministerial Meeting on Science and Technology (7-AMMST) and the opening of World Innovation Forum (WIF-KL 2013). The Brunei delegation was led by Dato Paduka Awang Haji Suhaimi bin Haji Gafar, Permanent Secretary (Technical & Professional), at the Ministry of Development, with officials from the Division for Science & Technology, Research and International, Ministry of Development.