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Sunday, June 3, 2012
New tech institute boosts Malaysia ties
KUALA LUMPUR — Ties between Tokyo and Kuala Lumpur took a significant step forward Friday with the official opening of the Malaysia-Japan International Institute of Technology.
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak and former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama were on hand to mark the culmination of nearly a decade of preparatory work by both sides.
"This day has been a long time coming, but it has certainly been worth the wait," Najib said in his speech at the opening ceremony.
"It is, I think, a potent symbol not only of Malaysia's rich and burgeoning relationship with Japan but of our confidence in its technology, our admiration for the Japanese work ethic and our desire to open a window into its way of life."
Hatoyama said the institute is Japan's way of helping to develop human resources in the region.
"I came up with a concept that Japan should promote the development of human resources who will underpin regional cooperation in the Asia-Pacific in 30 years by significantly expanding the number of exchange students," he said during a speech.
"I am convinced that thanks to the strong initiative by Prime Minister Najib, the institute will introduce Japanese-style engineering education to Malaysia and significantly contribute to the development of the entire region as a center of academic excellence in engineering, not only in Malaysia but also in ASEAN," he said, referring to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
The new institute, located on the Kuala Lumpur campus of the University of Technology, Malaysia, took in the first batch of 115 students last September. It has an academic staff of 30, six of them Japanese. By 2017, the institute aims to have almost 3,000 students and a faculty of 270, including 20 Japanese members.
It was established with the support of a consortium of 24 Japanese universities and a loan of 250 million ringgits (about ¥6.1 billion) from the Japanese government. Najib said the Malaysian government will allocate 100 million ringgits (¥2.4 billion) annually over the next seven years.
The project is part of Malaysia's "Look East Policy" introduced in February 1982 to emulate Japan's work ethic and acquire its business skills and technological knowhow.