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‘Social, environ woes linked’

December 10, 2010
Published on: Friday, December 10, 201 Daily Express

Kota Kinabalu: Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) Vice-Chancellor Prof Datuk Dr Kamaruzaman Ampon said social problems are the cause of most environmental problems in the State and elsewhere.

He said inequality of access to natural resources drives the poor to desperation.

In this instance, he said that natural resources provide them with a safety net.

“(But) lack of transparency in the implementation of natural resource policies result in abuse, directly affecting biodiversity and livelihoods especially of indigenous peoples,” he said, Thursday.

Because of that, he said the livelihoods of the indigenous peoples would be particularly affected since they are the most reliant on the environment in their day-to-day lives.

UMS social science researchers, on the other hand, he said are heavily involved in examining the social implications of environmental change.

However, they are also involved in related areas of concern in social science, he said.

Of particular interest are issues of migration, ethnic relations, nation building, quality of life, poverty, as well as mapping, which can be viewed both as a technical and a political exercise.

In this respect, Kamaruzaman hoped that the intellectual exchange at the 10th Conference of Asia Pacific Sociological Association (APSA 2010) Conference would benefit all.

The overall theme of the conference, Social and Environmental Change: Opportunities and Challenges for the Asia Pacific is one that is applicable to most countries of the region, he said.

“It is applicable because in the context of rapid development which is characteristic of the region, social and environmental changes occur simultaneously,” he said.

Meanwhile, Kamaruzaman said that it is fitting the APSA 2010 is held here with the UMS as host.

The link between ASPA and the University of Wollongong (UoW) signals an ongoing active relationship between the UMS and institutions of higher learning in the Asia Pacific region, he said.

He said the conference in particular is one of the many activities that resulted from a memorandum of understanding that was signed between UMS and UoW approximately two years ago.

According to him, other projects in the relationship include a student exchange programme and a writing project spearheaded by UoW with participation by UMS staff.

The UMS, he said, is a particularly new university but in slightly over 10 years, it has grown from a few hundred students to around 13,000 at present some of whom are from abroad.

Internationalisation is a national objective of the UMS education system, he said.

“At UMS, this is seen in the active collaboration in research and teaching programme with universities around the world,” he said.

At the School of Sciences, Kamaruzaman said research and/or teaching collaborations are being actively pursued with universities in Australia, Canada, Germany, Indonesia, Thailand and other universities in the region.

Present were President of APSA, Associate Professor Dr Ruchira Ganguly Scrase, APSA Executive Committee Member Prof Tim Scrase, keynote speakers, Prof Datuk Dr Shamsul Amri Baharuddin, Professor Emma Porio of Ateneo de Manila University and Chair of the Organising Committee Associate, Professor Dr Fadzilah Majid Cooke.

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