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Oleh/By		:	DATO' SERI DR. MAHATHIR BIN MOHAMAD 
Tempat/Venue 	: 	UNIVERSITY OF MALAYA (UM), 
			KUALA LUMPUR 
Tarikh/Date 	: 	12/12/83 
Tajuk/Title  	: 	AT THE INTERNATIONAL SYMPOSIUM ON 
			TECHNOLOGY, CULTURE 
			AND DEVELOPMENT 




Your Excellencies; Distinguished Guests; Participants of the
Symposium; Ladies and Gentlemen.

I am honoured and delighted to have this opportunity to be with you on
this auspicious occasion. It is a pleasure to welcome each and everyone of
you to Malaysia and in particular to Kuala Lumpur. I wish you every
success in your deliberations and I hope you will find time to see a part
of this country.

2. This is perhaps the first time that Technology and Development are to
be linked and studied together with Culture. The tendency has always been
to forget culture entirely when dealing with technology and
development. The result is that importation of foreign technology and
concepts of development has been disappointing to a lot of developing
nations. As a newly developing country, which is fast industrialising and
undergoing change, the theme of this Symposium is significant and very
relevant to us. The interplay of technology, culture and development,
while it can be complementary, can also tear a society apart if not fully
appreciated, integrated and guided.

3. We know that man does not live by material gains alone. We must have a
reasonably satisfying spiritual and cultural life. We should not forget
that man requires spiritual nourishments in addition to the material
necessities in order to enjoy a decent existence. It is probably this
realisation that has influenced the organisers of this Symposium. I look
forward to the results of your discussions, which I hope will not be
entirely academic but will give due consideration to the need for
practical application, particularly in the context of the complex
Malaysian society and environment.

4. Indeed, I am rather envious of all the participants who will have a
splendid opportunity to learn and exchange ideas concerning this rich
mixture of vital topics. As this is not going to be my privilege I hope
you do not mind if I take this opportunity to voice some of my thoughts on
these subjects.

5. Firstly let me say a few words about culture and its role in the
advancement of technology and development. What a society is is truly the
result or the product of its Of course if we care to go further backwards
we will find that the value system of a society is influenced by its
environment. But the environment can be shown to affect different
societies differently. Thus continous hardship may either reduce a society
to passive fatality or it may induce a hardiness which enables the society
to overcome the challenges of life.

6. Assuming that the environment has produced passivity and a fatalist
philosophy, the value system will be such that innovation and
inventiveness will be uncommon. Indeed lethargy normally develops. The
struggle against adversity will not characterize that society. In the
really bad cases, the society is given to extreme self-pity and dependence
on others.

7. Self-pity and dependence on others is in fact a characteristic of a lot
of under-developed or developing countries. Such countries are usually
lacking in discipline and the will to fight adversity. The value systems
and culture of the society in these countries are influenced by the basic
philosophy of dependence on others and passivity. There is no reaching out
for knowledge and advancement. Rather there is a continuous clamour to be
given everything in the ready-to-use state.

8. For such a society technology transfer is not possible or at least is
not easy to achieve. The attitude militates against it because the
acceptance of new technology requires a certain degree of discipline and
desire for change and self improvement. Basically a transfer of technology
is like the acceptance of a fishing rod in order to get food instead of
getting the food itself when that is what is asked for. Few would have the
patience to go fishing when hungry. Similarly the passive society would
not want to learn to make an electric fan when it is hot. It is easier to
buy or be given an electric fan. This is a simplistic analogy of the
cultural resistance involved in the transfer of technology but
nevertheless it is an apt analogy.

9. The point that is being made is that before technology can be
successfully transfered or while it is being transfered, the cultural
resistance must be overcome. This can only be done if there is an
understanding of the culture of the transferee community, or better still
the differences of the cultures of the transferors and the transferees. If
there is this understanding and the right allowances or preparations made,
the transfer of technology will succeed. If culture is ignored, there will
be resistence and failure or insignificant success at best.

10. That is why I am very attracted to the theme of this symposium. It is
the first time that culture is being discussed in conjunction with
technology and development.

Hitherto there has been much talk on the need for technology transfer and
the role of the transferor. The receptivity and capacity of the transferee
has not reccived much attention. I hope this symposium will give this
aspect their serious attention.

11. On the question of the transfer of technology itself. I would like to
look back into history, our best teacher. Over five thousand years ago,
the Egyptians discovered the technique of glass blowing. This technique
spread through the Mediterranean, Europe and Asia with very little
improvement until recent times. There was no clamour for a transfer of
technology nor any organised effort to do so.

Nevertheless technology transfer did take place and eventually improved
upon. Mass production techniques for the manufacture of glass tubing and
plate glass have now been devised and perfected. In navigation, the Arab
travellers perfected the astrolabe, while the Europeans learned about the
compass from the East. These are striking examples of the dissemination of
technology. The social and political consequences of this diffusion are
well known.

Ladies and Gentlemen, 

12. Today, the so-called third world countries are striving to achieve
rapid material progress by wholesale importation of a variety of
technologies from the advanced countries.

However, analogous to the process of the life sciences, technology cannot
always be transferred without considerable adaptation. The receiving
country has to meet one vital prerequisite: trained manpower, before it
can successfully absorb an imported technology. This principle seems to be
commonsense, yet it is often forgotten in the surge of national pride and
personal greed that lead to excessive absorbtion of foreign
technology. The results have not been entirely to the good of the
recipients' societies. If we look closely we will find that the absorption
of foreign technologies implies and involves cultural changes. If the
cultural changes are incompatible with the existing culture then
disorientation and confusion results. Needless to say a disoriented and
confused society is not the kind of society that is desirable.

13. Perhaps it would not be irrelevant for me to refer briefly to the
pricing of technology. No technology is too dear if the resulting outflow
of economic benefits exceeds its aggregate real cost. On the other hand,
no technology is too cheap if it involves a seemingly unending
entanglement with servicing costs and inventories that ultimately
impoverishes the recipient and render it more and bearing gifts". I
believe this refers to the story of the Trojan Horse. There is a
significant precept here for all the newly-developing countries.

14. Developing countries have to be careful not to acquire obsolete
technology which some advanced countries may wish to dump on them. In
finding a fair and reasonable price for purchased technology, a third
world country has to take into account not only what it must pay the
supplier, but also the whole of the real costs involved in adopting the
technology and training local manpower to operate it.

15. It is my observation that the more dynamic the pace of modernisation
in a country, the greater will be its need for new foreign
technologies. Technology in development is not a one-off affair. It is a
flow with an exponential growth rate. Any country which hopes to be a
substantial recipient of the new technologies developed by the advanced
countries must have an expanding capacity to absorb more of such
technologies.

16. I have spoken of resources including manpower as prerequisites of this
absorptive capacity. Now I will turn to one of the most critical aspects
of economic progress.

This is popularly known as "R & D", or Research and Development.

17. I would emphasise that while some 'R' and a litte 'D' may have to be
imported all the time, there is no real substitute for sustained R & D at
home. In a world dominated by national self-interest, it would be naive to
expect any country to carry out R & D for the benefit of another
country. We must carry out our own R & D to meet our own needs. Any work
done by other countries should be regarded as a bonus which may not be
depended upon as a reliable source.

18. I do agree that research always seems to be rather expensive. And,
good research must be terribly expensive.

Yet, if we are to succeed in development, we must invest substantial
resources in research. The high costs appear to be so because excellent
work frequently needs to be spread over a long period before its applied
value ultimately becomes apparent. Then an even longer period is needed
before any application can yield worthwhile economic results. Third world
countries must therefore be selective in research and may perhaps be
forced to limit themselves to researches in application before they
venture into pure research. It must be remembered that with such a wide
field open to research there is no way for any country to cover every
aspect of research. Somewhere along the line it will have to buy the
results of the work of others, no matter how advanced and rich that
country is.

19. Our primary problem is to identify areas in which we wish to disburse
our limited research funds. Whatever is funded should be adequate. Here we
enter the domain of politics and priorities. Research results are the
tasks of scientists. Priorities for funding are the business of the policy
makers. Harmony between these two parties will optimise progress.

20. Above all, in Research & Development the greatest problem is to frame
the right question so that the proper lines can be laid down for rigorous
empirical enquiry. That problem can be overcome if there is an
understanding of the development needs of the country.

Ladies and Gentlemen, 

21. The sponsors of this symposium -- Honda Foundation of Tokyo, Centro
Febbraio '74 of Rome, International Association of Traffic and Safety
Sciences, (IATSS) of Tokyo, and Institute of Advanced Studies, University
of Malaya -- are people who are very knowledgeable in the subjects that
have been chosen. That they have chosen to hold this symposium in
Malaysia, a developing country, is significant. The participants too are
people eminently qualified to discuss this important interaction between
the sciences and what is in fact the basics of the humanities, that is
culture.

22. I have no doubt that there is much to be gained from this symposium,
for the developing world and for Malaysia in particular. I look forward to
the results of your deliberations. I look forward also to the follow-up
actions that will have to be done if the symposium is not going to be
merely an exercise in philosophical thinking.

23. Finally I would like to wish you a very warm welcome to Malaysia and
an enlightening experience. Now I have great pleasure in declaring this
International Symposium on Technology, Culture and Development open.

Thank you.

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