Some years ago I proposed setting up a full-fledged university in Sarawak at the presentation of the Ang Lai Soon Press Awards organized by the First Division Journalists Association.
The Malaysian newspapers and the mass media gave overwhelming support to this idea.
I said this was one area which Sarawak had overlooked for too long as it struggled to keep pace with the rest of the world.
I also mentioned that every year hundreds of our students went abroad for a tertiary education.
As this demand grew, so too, the difficulty in securing places for our students in both local and foreign universities.
During that time, Australia increased tuition fees mainly for Malaysian and this would affect the number of our students who could afford a tertiary education there.
I mentioned that rather than lamenting this, we had to recognize the limitation of options for our students to go abroad as a trend, an irreversible trend which we were totally unable to control.
Sarawak did not lack a crop of scholars who should be capable of serving as the nucleus of a full-fledged university.
I said that once an initiative had been taken, it might be possible to interest the private sector to contribute funds to help realise this worthy venture.
I added that although the initial capital outlay would be considerable, consideration must be gave to how foreign exchange outflow might be stanched every year if our students abroad had the opportunity to study locally.
As it was, I pointed out about $1 billion annually were being remitted overseas as expenses incurred by local students abroad.
A local university would also sustain employment opportunities and generate related services.
I also said students going abroad did not come from well-to-do families. The majority were from ordinary families of modest financial means.
Although all these were said some years ago, everything mentioned is still relevant.
I was delighted to note that finally the first university in Sarawak, UNIMAS was established in December 1992.
Swinburne University of Technology Sarawak was set up in year 2000.
Today, Swinburne is one of the very top universities in Sarawak.
It has allowed local students who desire an Australian education can now have it without having to leave the country.
Swinburne does have a good reputation for quality research that connects science and technology with business and the community.
And I think its standing in a number of prestigious global academic ranking lists reflects its commitment to high-quality teaching and research.
I warmly congratulate Swinburne University of Technology Sarawak for not only educating our young people but also at the same time fully aware of its corporate social responsibility.
I believe it is not often that an NGO receives a donation from an university either in cash or in kind.
The Sarawak Cheshire Home is, therefore, rather fortunate to have been selected to receive a generous gift in the form of a magnificent storehouse.
Today, I have the pleasant duty to receive the key to this beautiful house from the Swinburne University of Technology Sarawak.
Yesterday afternoon I paid a visit to this new storehouse. It was love at first sight! I like it so much, so much so that I hope I could have one built for myself as well in my little forest to serve as an additional library.
I have books overflowing everywhere in my house and at least two persons have threatened to make a big bonfire!
Personally I am also grateful to Swinburne University for giving me this inspiration to build an additional modest library.
On behalf of Sarawak Cheshire Home, I wish to express my sincere thanks and deep appreciation to the University for this thoughtful gift which is made possible through its collaboration with the Breakthrough Network Berhad and the Sarawak Cheshire Home.
Breakthrough, I understand, contributes technical expertise, in terms of designing the storehouse, the costing and procuring of materials, and on-site supervision of work.
We are grateful to Dr George Ngui, Associate Dean and Senior lecturer; Dr Voon Mung Ling, coordinator and lecturer for initiating and supervising the project, and also the Swinburne students concerned who provide the workforce, the Director of the Breakthrough Network Mr Lau Yeo Koo and the various sponsors of this Swinburne project and our coordinator Mr Albert Kon for representing Cheshire Home.
# This is a speech by Datuk Seri Ang Lai Soon, President of the Sarawak Cheshire Home at the presentation of the mock key to the Sarawak Cheshire Home Storehouse, a project of Swinburne University-Breakthrough Network Sdn Bhd at the Lecture Theatre, Main Building, Swinburne University of Technology Sarawak on July 20, 2017.