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Oleh/By		:	DATO' SERI DR. MAHATHIR BIN MOHAMAD 
Tempat/Venue 	: 	PUTRA WORLD TRADE CENTRE, 
			KUALA LUMPUR 
Tarikh/Date 	: 	19/10/86 
Tajuk/Title  	: 	THE FIFTH CONGRESS OF THE 
			FEDERATION OF ASIAN 
			VETERINARY ASSOCIATIONS 




Professor Dr. Omar Abdul Rahman, Chairman of the Organising
Comittee; Distinguished Guests; Ladies and Gentlemen, 

It is an honour for me and my wife to be invited to this welcoming dinner
and official opening of the Fifth Congress of the Federation of Asian
Veterinary Associations This gathering is a historic occasion for our
country. Never has so many veterinarians from so many countries gathered
under one roof in Malaysia before.

2. When I was a practicing doctor, I used to complain about not getting
enough sleep. I was called up almost every night by my patients. Once I
told a friend, a Doctor of Veterinary Science about my problem. He gave a
big laugh. He said he chose to be an animal doctor because if he gets an
emergency call at night, his prescription was simple, "Shoot the
beast". Alas, doctors, medical doctors that is, cannot shoot their
patients -- though I suspect that sometimes they wish they could.

3. May I, and also on behalf of my wife, say welcome to all delegates and
wish you all a successful Congress.

Ladies and Gentlemen, 

4. Man and animals have a long history of interdependence. Indeed the
health and well-being of man has always been closely linked with that of
his animals. Ever since the beginning of human history, man had depended
heavily on animals for food, fibre, power and even for fuel. Despite the
vast changes that has taken place in human fortune and circumstances over
the last several thousand years, this dependence, on a global basis, has
continued almost unaltered. Indeed human dependence on animals has
increased. In modern times animals have come to play an increasingly
important role in human recreational pleasure and as a sour ce of
companionship.

5. What form the interdependence will take in the future is subject to
speculation, but I am sure interdependence will endure.

6. As custodian of animal health, veterinarians have therefore always
played a key role in human history. As a medical doctor, I am prepared
even to concede that in the role of custodian of animal health, members of
your profession have contributed directly and significantly also to the
health and welfare of human beings.

7. About 58 percent of the world's population is in Asia and the ASEAN
region is one of the most populous areas of the world. With so many mouths
to feed, food production becomes a crucial issue and a major preoccupation
of this region. Fortunately, the success of the Green Revolution has
averted absolute shortages of staple cereals. The situation is not so with
food of animal origin. While the peoples of the developed Western nations
worry about the balance between red and white meat and about cholesterol
intake, many of our fellow Asians suffer chronic malnutrition and protein
deficiency. This is ironical because not only was the art of grain
cultivation but that of animal production also had its beginnings in Asia.

8. Indeed, many basic technologies and discoveries originated in Asia, but
they remained underdeveloped and inefficiently exploited. For example, the
Chinese had used antibiotics, without knowing it, some 2500 years ago when
they applied mouldy soya bean curd to boils and carbuncles and obtained
beneficial results. They were not, however, inquisitive or systematic
enough and never found out why mouldy soya bean curd had curative effects
on infections.

9. On the other hand, Western scientists, beginning with Fleming, observed
similar effects, that is inhibition of bacterial growth by mould, and
their study of the phenomenon led to the discovery of penicillin in
1928. Again in the case of artificial insemination, it was, according to
reports, first used in a crude way by the Arabs in the 14th Century. The
significance was not realized and the technology remained
primitive. Artificial insemination received scientific attention by
Western scientists such as Spallenzani and Ivanoff in the 18th century and
eventually revolutionized animal breeding in the Western world. It is only
lately that artificial insemination became widely used in our part of the
world.

10. Although Asia has 97 percent of the world's buffalo and 29 percent of
the world's cattle population, it produces only 7.6 percent of the world's
beef and 9% of the world's milk. Stated another way, Asia produces 15kg of
milk per person as compared to 272 kg for the USA and 381 kg for Western
Europe. This is so because the output per dairy cow is 5,637 kg in the
USA, 3,337 kg in Europe, and only 669 kg in Asia. In short, despite an
earlier civilization and a head start in agriculture, Asia is today far
behind in food productivity.

11. What causes this anomaly? What went wrong? Is it because our peoples
are reluctant to change? Is there some thing inherently inhibitive in our
cultures? One can attribute innumerable factors to the anomaly. But one
thing is undeniable: that there is nothing inherently "anti-progress" in
the Asian cultural heritage. I say this because there are ample examples
also in Asia where rapid and vast changes have taken place. Countries like
Japan, South Korea and Taiwan have made enviable progress in areas quite
remote from their cultural heritage.

12. We all realise that in order to bring about progress there must first
be an attitudinal change and a heightened degree of mental receptivity. In
many cases organizational changes are also required. Only then can
technology be introduced, received and indigenized. In the context of
rural Asia, I am of the opinion that for as long as our farmers espouse
subsistence-type farming as a way of life, they cannot and they will not
readily adopt new technology. This can be illustrated by the development
of the poultry and swine industry in Malaysia. Meaningful development did
not take place until the 1950s when farmers became prepared to change from
subsistence or backyard farming into commercial ventures, even though on
small scales. New breeds and scientific husbandry became readily accepted
by these small commercial units which have now grown into huge modern
commercial farms. As a result Malaysia is now a net exporter of poultry
meat, pork and eggs.

13. Another example is artificial insemination which was introduced into
Malaysia in 1963. It was readily accepted by commercial dairy farmers but
not by subsistence farmers despite continuous efforts by the Government to
promote it.

14. Based on this experience we have developed a strategy in animal
production in Malaysia which seek to upgrade selected subsistence farmers
into small commercial units by facilitating the acquisition of a bigger
number of animals or by grouping them into larger units. In the case of
beef production, these organised units quickly adopted the feedlot
technology, recently introduced by the Department of Veterinary Services,
in which confined cattle are fed entirely on palm kernel cake. From only
one feedlot in 1984, we now have over 400, mainly in the form of small
commercial units. I have no doubt that some of these small units will grow
to become large units of several thousand heads.

15. Organizing farmers into commercial units and grouping them will also
facilitate a more organised marketing system, more cost-effective delivery
of services and better control of quality.

16. Let me give another example to further emphasise the point. You are
all aware of the fact that biotechnology has application in animal
production. Indeed it has potential to revolutionise animal selection and
breeding. I refer to the well developed technology of embryo transfer,
embryo splitting and embryo sexing. Local scientists have mastered these
techniques, but they, the techniques, will never leave the confines of the
laboratories if there is no commercial demand for them. We cannot apply
sophisticated technology so long as we have only small subsistence peasant
farmers. Sophisticated modern technology can only yield benefits when
applied on a large scale by commercial enterprises. If we wish to
modernise farming, restructuring of the farming community is a must. That
is what we are trying to do in Malaysia.

17. I realize of course that your profession is not confined to animal
health and animal production only. Through your involvement in veterinary
public health, you play a significant role in human public health. I know
also that many members of your profession are occupied in biomedical
research -- a general term given to a variety of disciplines related to
the health sciences. Your contribution to the pool of biomedical knowledge
is well known and from this pool has emerged techniques in disease
diagnosis, therapy, surgery, prevention and control which are applicable
to both the medical and veterinary professions.

18. I am told that we have here tonight veterinarians from a broad
spectrum of professional activities -- academics, research workers,
private practitioners, industrial veterinarians, government officers and
so on. There must be many examples in your collective experience
pertaining to veterinary medicine, animal agriculture, public health and
biomedical sciences that have contributed to the advancement of the
veterinary profession, to national economy, to human health and welfare in
your own countries. The scientific sessions that begins tomorrow will I am
sure be both interesting and lively. I am sure you will all benefit from
the interaction. After all, experience shared is knowledge gained.

Ladies and Gentlemen, 

19. I take this opportunity to thank the organisers for inviting me and my
wife to be with you this evening. It is now my pleasure to declare open
the Fifth Congress of the Federation of Asian Veterinary Associations.

Thank you. 
 

 



 
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