SAMARAHAN: The state government is willing to invest in fields and sectors that matter most to Sarawak – research development and development of human capital.
Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg said these were why the state had put in RM200 million for the establishment of its research facility – Sarawak Infectious Disease Centre (SIDC).
“The idea of having our research facilities is meant for us to explore the potential of our biodiversity.
“However, the only missing links are the scientists and the experts. This is where the government can provide the facilities, but we have to interact and collaborate with experts throughout the world to conduct research.
“We have to be far-sighted. The state government wants to make sure we are well prepared for calamities due to diseases that come after this,” he said before officiating at the earth-breaking ceremony of SIDC here on Tuesday (Nov 16).
He added SIDC would provide an avenue for people, particularly the young people, to do research.
“Meaning, the whole spectrum of research will be here and soon, we are also going to launch astronomical research.
“You may ask why I am doing this … it’s because I feel that if you want to a developed economy, you must develop your human capital and, at the same time, you have to be innovative,” he said, adding that it was important to provide a good environment that allowed students to do post-graduate studies and research for the future.
Abang Johari added that Sarawak was on the right track as countries such as Japan, China, Korea had put their money on researches, which is why they were very advanced in biomedical research.
He said that the SIDC would soon be engaging with Sarawak Biodiversity Centre (SBC) to screen their natural product library, a collection of extracts from plants and microorganisms from throughout Sarawak, for potentially new antiviral compounds.
He said that the research project would also study compounds that inhibited the binding of SARS-CoV-2 spike protein to the ACE2 receptor proteins on the surfaces of cells, which was the primary entry point of the SARS-CoV-2 virus into cells.
“As you know, when I soft-launched the SIDC (in July this year), it has also undertaken the vaccine serology study to establish the effectiveness of our Covid-19 vaccination programme and to provide direction for our vaccine policy in Sarawak,” he said.
Also present were Minister for Education, Science and Technological Research Sarawak (MESTR) Datuk Amar Michael Manyin Jawong; Minister of Local Government and Housing Datuk Seri Dr Sim Kui Hian, Assistant Minister of Education, Science and Technological Research Dr Annuar Rapaee; State Secretary Datuk Amar Jaul Samion and SRDC general manager Dr Peter Morin Nissom.