Brunei Times | June 29, 2013
Brunei can benefit from learning from its neighbour’s success stories rather than turning to success stories in the Western world.
This was said by Professor Asit Biswas, a professor from the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy and the founder of the Third World Centre for Water Management, during yesterday’s interview at the Rizqun International Hotel.
Professor Biswas is in town as the keynote speaker of the Brunei Association of Surveyors, Engineers and Architects (PUJA) 1st National Conference 2013, to be held at the hotel.
A development specialist, Professor Biswas cited that for water and sustainability, which are important issues that countries are addressing around the world, Pnom Penh in Cambodia could provide lessons that other Western cities might not.
“It has an urban water supply system whose performance indicator is better than London, Los Angeles or Paris,” he said.
He also noted that two years ago, Phnom Penh water supply was one of the first companies that floated on the Phnom Penh stock exchange, and on the first day, its value jumped 49 per cent.
“What I am saying is that there are many Phnom Penhs in Asia, and instead of going to Chicago, or New York or Paris, we can learn a lot from this type of cases to see who in our backyard is doing excellent work,” he said, adding that experts from the West are now coming to Asia to learn.
“If you are going to make progress, you cannot, in a country, follow the Western institutions and concepts because the ideas are very different, you have do develop your own system,” he said.
Professor Biswas said that that developing countries need to take their cue from others that have similar education levels, similar backgrounds, and experience that learned to solve their problems, and then modified solutions to fit their needs.
He added that the world is now also moving at a pace that is so fast, it would be “impossible to predict”.
“In the 1980s and 1990s, the world was changing, but it wasn’t changing as fast, so now we can’t predict what the world will be,” he said.
He said that science and technology are now making “tremendous advances” in economics, environmental issues, changing people’s expectations, and so on. “Things are changing so quickly that we honestly do not know, so the challenge we are facing in this changing world is how do we change the mindset not only of the government but in the academia,” he said.