Saturday, January 24, 2015

Atoms for Peace: Nuclear Technology in the 21st Century

  1.  Introduction.  The lecture by HE Yukiya Amano, Director General of the International Energy Agency (IAEA) was delivered today (Tuesday 21 January 2015) at Hall A Putrajaya International Convention Centre (PICC) attended by an estimated 200 delegates principally representing the agencies under the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI).  It was organised jointly by MOSTI, the Academy of Science Malaysia, Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB) and Malaysian Nuclear Agency as part of the program of the official visit of the IAEA CEO to the country.  In the welcoming remarks, Y Bhg Dato' Seri Dr. NoorulAinur Mohd. Nur, the Secretary General of MOSTI expressed thanks to IAEA for having provided assistance in the utilization of nuclear technology in the fields of health, agriculture, industrial development covering electrical, gas & oil industries; and green technology.  Malaysia is exploring the possibility of nuclear energy for its energy supply.  She looked forward to continued cooperation and assistance with IAEA. 
  The lecture was moderated by Dr. Mohd Zamzam Jaafar , CEO of Malasia Nuclear Power Corporation (MNPC) and in introducing the speaker highlighted that HE Yukiya was a graduate of the Faculty of Law, Tokyo University, joined the Japanese Foreign Ministry and served in many countries and held various senior positions in the Japanese Government before assuming his duties as IAEA Director General starting in December 2009.
The imposing PICC this morning where the lecture was held

HE Yukiya Amano at the rostrum delivering his lecture

At the VIP table with the speaker were Y Bhg Dato' Seri Dr. Noorul Ainur Mohd Nur and Dr. Mohd Zamzam Jaafar CEO of MNPC 

A section of the attendees

With (from left) Nor Hasnah from Nuclear Malaysia and Y. Bhg Dato' Dr Ho of the Academy of Science Malaysia

 2.  Content of the Lecture.  HE Yukiya introduced IAEA as an intergovernmental organization established in 1957 and based in Vienna, Austria that serves as the global centre for cooperation in nuclear applications, energy, science and technology and operates with member states and other stakeholders to promote safe, secure and peaceful nuclear technologies and prevent the proliferation of war.  It promotes development through the utilization of Nuclear Energy. He highlighted that the peaceful uses of nuclear technologies in the following areas:

     a. in medical health as diagnostic tools and treatment of cancer and other diseases

     b. in agriculture particularly in mutation breeding

     c. in food preservation through irradiation.  The shelf life of fruits such as papaya and pineapple is                     enhanced. He cited the example how the Malaysian Government has provided central irradiation facilities so that           smallholders can use them to irradiate fruits such as durian for export and suggested that Malaysia may           wish to share such expertise with other countries

      d. in water management

     e. in industries such as energy, gas and oils

     f. in sustainable development where nuclear technology is being used to monitor                   marine pollution and carbon dioxide emission 

  He elaborated that it is in the medical services that nuclear technologies are making their enormous contributions. Radiotherapy has saved many lives of cancer patients. An estimated one million people in the world died each day of this disease.  Nuclear technology is also being used to diagnose patients suspected of being infected by Ebola virus disease which speeds up the diagnosis, which under normal analytical process takes four days, to four hours.  The irradiation male sterility techniques in tsetse fly and mosquito facilitated in the control of sleeping sickness and dengue fever, in the tropical region. 

  3.  Q & A Session.   In my remark during the session, I indicated that much still needs to be done in humanizing and educating the public in Malaysia creating higher awareness particularly on the safety aspect of nuclear energy.  The Russian Chernobyl and the Canadian Third Mile nuclear mishaps are still not forgotten and the more recent Fukushima Nuclear Plant incident gave the impression that nuclear plants are hazardous to lives, though actually no life was actually lost in this disaster. The Lynas issue almost aborted the development of the rare earth industries in the country due to concern on radiation and waste management.  The safety of nuclear technology appeared to be the main concern as many of the other participants who spoke raised this issue.  HE Yukiya emphasised again that nuclear safety is utmost in the consideration for the utilization of nuclear related technologies and that each country that plans to establish a nuclear plant needs to prepare thoroughly its implementation .  The biggest hindrance to a much wider use of nuclear energy is the handling of waste, though according to him, there exist in the Scandinavian countries such as Sweden and Finland,  depository for even high level nuclear wastes.  In spite of the concern there are now 45 existing nuclear plants in the world with 73 currently under construction.                      
Souvenir and presentation memento to the speaker

  Posted on Saturday 24/1/2015
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Sunday, January 18, 2015

International Convention on Wisdom: Harmonising the World

  1. Introduction  The International Convention on Wisdom (ICW) with a theme 'Harmonising the World' was held on Saturday January 10, 2015 at the Cyberjaya Resort & Spa, Cyberjaya organised by Universiti Islam Malaysia (UIM). It was organised as an effort to promote wisdom as a core value and the central pillar of harmonious and peaceful living in the world and that its application in consonance with knowledge will contribute to the resilience and invincibility of the community. Wisdom is the focus area of study at this Post-Graduate University.  It was participated by 440 distinguished delegates from principally the national academic institutions and scholars from Australia, Ireland, Indonesia, Japan, Jordan, Oman, Singapore and Malaysia. Its opening was officiated by YB Dato' Seri Jamil Khir Baharom (B), Minister in the Prime Minister's Department.  YB Dato' Seri in his speech highlighted the many challenges that the country went through in 2014 - MH 370, MH 17 and QZ 8501 and the massive floods that hit the east coast states of Kelantan, Terengganu and Pahang at the end of the year and felt that through wisdom, the country would be able to go through these many challenges. He congratulated UIM for having initiated the discussion on the topic and believed that wisdom can play a critical role in overcoming issues such as security, terrorism, education and economy.  Y. Bhg Tan Sri Prof Dr. Mohd Yusof Noor, President UIM, who spoke before the Minister,  in his Welcoming address expressed gratitude to the international participants and who, he hoped, will share their views on global wisdom in solving the many challenges around us and develop a systematic approach through wisdom to bring stability and peace on earth.  Currently, he added that civilization is getting materialistic and human-centric and that we must resort to wisdom in controlling our actions for the betterment of mankind.

 Y. Bhg Tan Sri Prof Dr. Mohd Yusof Noor, President of UIM delivering his Welcoming Address

YB Mejar Jeneral Dato' Seri Jamil Khir bin Baharom (B) officiating the Convention 

A section of the participating delegates

  2. Topics Discussed.  The issues discussed were segmented into 4 sessions as follows:

      2.1 Special session.  This session was fulfilled by a keynote address by a prominent Malaysians, YABhg Tun Ahmad Sarji bin Abdul Hamid, currently the Chairman of National Equity Corporation on the topic of 'The Islamic Mind: Contribution to Governance'.  The Islamic Mind. according to him, must essentially be based on the Quran, Sunnah, Ijtihad and Qiyas; able to project coherent and non-conflicting thoughts; able to understand proof and evidence of truth and able to put words into action.  As to Governance, the six key dimensions include voice and accountability; political stability and lack of violence; government effectiveness; regulatory quality; rule of law and control of corruption.  Tun Ahmad Sarji, in his assessment of the application of the Islamic mind on governance, uses parameters from the various surveys and studies by such international agencies as the World Bank, UNDP, World Trade Organisation, the World Economic Forum, Transparency International, the Heritage Foundation and the Islamicity Index on economic, legal and governance; human and political rights; international relationship.  He concluded that from the study of the 208 countries, only 23 percent or 13 of the total 57 OIC countries were ranked in the top 100.  Malaysia ranked 33rd in the top 50 countries.  The top 20 spots were all filled by non-Muslim developed countries. He thus expressed the view that, to date, the application of Islamic mind to governance is low.           

YABhb Tun Ahmad Sarji presenting his paper 

      2.2 Session 1.  This session chaired by Prof Dr Noor Inayah Ya'akub of UIM  discussed the following papers:
              a. International Management Scholarship and the Virtue of Contextual Wisdom by
                  Prof. Michael J. Morley of University of Limerick, Ireland

              b. The Role of Universities in Creating Global Harmony and Sharing Wisdom: Reflections
                  on the Power of Education by
                  Prof. Colin Power of University of Queensland, Australia

              c. International Trade and Services: Challenging the Conventional Wisdom by
                  Prof. Dr. Amir Mahmood of Newcastle University, Australia

     2.3 Session 11.  Chaired by Prof. Dr. Khalid Mohd Nor of UIM, the second session focussed on the following issues:

              a. Analysing the Heart of the Contemporary Civilisational Crises as Arising from the Crisis
                  of the Heart: Sharing a Perennial Divine Wisdom by
                  Distinguished Prof. Tan Sri Dr. Mohd Kamal Hassan of the International Islamic
                  University Malaysia

             b.  Faith, Wisdom and Civilisation: The Embedding of Islam in the Malay World by
                  Distinguished Prof. Datuk Dr. Shamsul Amri Baharuddin of Univ. Kebangsaan Malaysia

             c.  Simple Wisdom that can Guide Us Forward through the Prism of Islamic Finance by
                  Encik Badlisyah Abdul Ghani, Chief Executive Officer, CIMB Islamic

     2.4  Session 111.  The session was chaired by Dr. Adel M Abdulaziz Algeriani of UIM and covered the
            following topics:

            a.  New Directions in Higher Education by
                 Prof. Emeritus Datuk Shad Saleem Faruqi of UiTM Shah Alam

            b.  Persoalan Bahasa Pengantar dalam Pengajian Tinggi by
                 Prof. Dato' Teo Kok Seong of University Kebangsaan Malaysia

            c.  Good and Evil According to Sufism and Pure Land Buddhism by
                 Prof. Tanaga Yasushi of Kyoto University, Japan

            d.  Hikmah Kegemilangan Kesultanan Yogyakarta Hamengku Buwono IX, 1940 - 1988 by
                 Prof. Dr. Suhartono Wiryopranoto of Univ Gadjah Mada, Yogyakarta, Indonesia
    All the papers presented at the Convention and more are published in the two publications - WISDOM
Magazine Volume 1/2015 and LA SAGESSE Magazine Volume 1/2015.

Panellists of one of the Sessions 
Panellists at one of the Sessions

The two magazines containing the papers presented at the Convention 

Acknowledging the contributors of papers at the Convention

Catching up with old friends and making new ones at lunch of the Convention -
from left Prof Hamdan, formerly at UiTM and President of Comsumer Association of Malaysia, Prof. Ismail of UMS and Dato' Hasbullah

  3.  Concluding Remarks.  I have always found attendance of Conventions, Conferences, Seminars and Workshops beneficial and widen further one's horizon of knowledge.  This is part of lifelong learning.  At this Convention, I gain insights on the many facets related to wisdom.  At the same time these gatherings provide opportunities of making new friends and bonding with old ones.  The Convention was well participated in terms the number of delegates numbering 440, which I understand, exceeded the target of 300.  As usual as in other academic gatherings time was the limiting factor for Q& A.