YB Tan Sri Datuk Amar Haji Mohamad Morshidi Bin Abdul Ghani,
State Secretary, Sarawak cum Chairman of SDI
Opening Ceremony of The Strategic ComDev Planning
for Sarawak Development Project Planners and Implementers
(22-26 June 2015)
22 June 2015, (Monday), 8:45am | Imperial Hotel Kuching
YBhg. Datu Aloysius J. Dris, CEO of SDI and AZAM
Dr. Cleofe Torres,
Professor, College of Development Communication,
University of Philippines Los Banos
Dr. Serlie Barroga-Jamais,
Vice chancellor for Community Affairs, University of Philippines Los Banos
Ladies and Gentlemen
Communication for Development is not unknown in Sarawak. As far as I know, it is also known by another name i.e. development communication. All agencies involved in development do practise some form of communication for development but the extent to which emphasis is placed on communication and its intent to bring about behavioural and social change varies. Communication for Development or ComDev, I understand, is a dialog social process that uses a broad range of tools, techniques and the media to help stakeholders involved in development to strive towards sustained and meaningful change in their lives through acquiring better knowledge and skills to improve their situation. ComDev is people centric and that should be the core of any development project that intends to bring about change among its targeted stakeholders.
Our government officers involved in development, I must admit, have a certain level of knowledge in communication, but are not sufficiently trained in the field to be able to involve and engage our development stakeholders effectively to bring about the changes that they want and the outcomes required for community development. Based on observations, reports and feedback through the years in our development efforts, we acknowledge that knowledge and skills in communication for development are getting more essential by day as the government needs to meet the increasing demands and expectations from its development stakeholders, particularly in the rural areas.
As you all know, Sarawak has established its development agenda for the next 15 years through our Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE), and we are doing our best to adhere to and benchmark against international standards. Many eyes will be judging our development efforts and our challenges are many to deliver the development plans and ensure maximum benefits are reaped for the intended communities. Resistance and uncertainties among our stakeholders are expected and will be our greatest challenge but they need to be understood and managed well. We need to bring our stakeholders on board, involve and engage them, build trust and resolve conflicts, help them realise there are other options available and to acquire knowledge and skills they need to improve their conditions, then plan actions for change and sustainable development.
I believe it is the core aim of this Communication for Development training for our planners and implementers to equip them with the know how to meet and mitigate these challenge they will face in implementing projects for SCORE.
This event is a milestone for Sarawak and a step in the right direction as it is the first time we are embarking on strategic training in communication for development. If I am not wrong, it is perhaps also the first pioneering effort on the part of the civil service in Malaysia to embark on such training. As the State Secretary and the Chairman of the Sarawak Development Institute, I am glad that we have managed to link up with the ComDev experts from the University of the Philippines Los Banos (UPLB) who are leaders in this field to conduct this training for us. They were in fact here last year in August to give us a sample of the abridged training over two and a half days. More than 60 officers from government departments, statutory bodies and NGOs were involved in that particular training. I am happy to share that our trainers from UPLB apart from Prof. Cleofe Torres and Prof. Serlie Jamias who are with us this morning, are renowned in their field, having been involved in such training in Asia and Africa and for work done with WHO, World Bank, ADB, UNICEF, UNESCO and FAO.
This training for our officers generally aims to formulate a 5-year strategic ComDev plan for a particular development project that the officers are working on. This time round, the training will take a total of 18 weeks beginning with this 5 days of face-to-face session, to be followed after by online discussions, coaching and mentoring by advisers and mentors from the UPLB. I understand there are a total of 25 officers from key government planners and officers to be trained in the future. I strongly believe this training will be able to improve and enhance the government’s performance and deliverables in our future programmes and projects. I also don’t discount the possibilities that our officers may be interested after this training to further their knowledge by doing their masters and even doctorates in ComDev at UPLB.
I also wish to emphasise that as with any training or work, commitment and passion from those involved are vital for its success. As mentioned earlier, this training will involve self-study, work exercises and online coaching sessions from the trainers and advisers in UPLB. This requires discipline, hard work and integrity from each participant. I expect no less since you have all been specially selected by your agency head. Over the next 18 weeks, I hope all participants will persevere and gain and learn as much as possible from the trainers on the communication for development strategies for the implementation and management of our development programmes and projects.
With our cast experienced trainers for the University of the Philippines Los Banos, I know that you are in good hands. With that, I wish you all the best in your training and I look forward to hearing your strategic communication development plans for the specific projects you are working on after the training.