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First Convention Travel Sscholarship Winners Announced

Kuching: Tuesday 4th August 2009

Minister of Urban Development & Tourism, YB Datuk Michael Manyin ak Jawong today announced the first regional winners of the Sarawak Convention Bureau’s new International Convention Travel Scholarship Program.

Three scholarships, valued at up to RM10,000, each were open to all Sarawak residents over 18 years of age studying or employed in educational institutions, companies, or government departments. Their selected conventions must rotate among different destinations and have the ability to be hosted by Malaysia.

A judging panel consisting of representatives of the Sarawak Convention Bureau and media partner The Borneo Post shortlisted 15 finalists from the written applications and conducted interviews with selected applicants from Southern, Central and Northern Sarawak.

The winner from Kuching is Mr. Lawrence Tseu Sed Kong, a Senior Town and Country Planning Officer with the Land and Survey Department. His area of interest is in urban transport and sustainable city planning. Lawrence is a current member of the Malaysian Institute of Planning and will be attending the 10th International Conference of Walking and Livable Communities in New York City from October 7th – 9th 2009.

Lawrence intends to bring back new and fresh ideas to help develop Kuching City’s urban transport network.  He is also already involved in running a Conference on Urban Transport in Kuching next year with the proposed theme: A Platform for Change in Urban Renewal Areas through a sustainable urban transportation system.

Representing the Central Region and hailing from Kapit is Joe Peter Tukau, a graduate of the University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur.  Joe has a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting and will pursue a career in travel and tourism. His specific interest is sustainable Eco Tourism development. His plan is to showcase Sarawak’s natural attractions to discerning visitors by developing new eco tourism product in rural areas such as Kapit.  Joe will be representing Sarawak at the International Conference on Tourism Development and Management on Kos Island Greece from the 11 to the 14th of September this year.

From Curtin University of Technology, Miri, our third recipient is Ms Nurul Jameela Nor Mazlan.  Nurul is a 3rd year student studying Electronic and Communication Engineering and she will be traveling to Innsbruck, Austria to attend the 7th International Conference on Biomedical Engineering (BIOMED 2010)  from the 17th to 19th February 2010.

Nurul is working on a very worthwhile health project to enable patients in remote areas to send electrocardiogram (ECG) readings via their mobile phones. Her aim is to develop new signal processing transmission technology that can read heartbeat signals from an ECG chip and relay them via SMS to doctors at the nearest hospital.

Each winner will receive a grant of up to RM 10,000 to cover their travel costs, registration and accommodation expenses to represent Sarawak at these three very different but very important international conventions.

The Scholarship Program is a new initiative from the Sarawak Convention Bureau, the State’s convention marketing organisation.  Since its establishment in July 2006, the Bureau has secured 74 new conventions for Sarawak. These conventions will collectively deliver 89,100 delegate days and RM71, 750,000 in direct delegate expenditure.

While commending the Bureau on the results to date, YB Datuk Michael Manyin added that: “Malaysia and Sarawak are still very small players in the international association market so we have enormous potential for growth.  Currently we host less than one per cent of the available market share of this lucrative USD11.8 billion global market.”

“As a starting point, before we get to the bid stage we need more Sarawakians to be attending overseas conventions as either delegates, speakers or board members of international organisations.”

“This is because most association meetings require an invitation from a local member branch to meet their bid selection criteria.  By sponsoring convention attendees, we hope to showcase the benefits and opportunities of attending conventions and nurture future convention hosts willing to bid to bring a meeting here”.

Results from a research study of international association meeting planners conducted earlier this year found that only 25 per cent of the 400 Associations interviewed currently have an active Malaysian branch.

Not surprisingly, most of our existing Malaysian Associations with international affiliations are headquartered in Kuala Lumpur, so it is important for Sarawak to also develop its own association base with active members.

Mrs. Jill Henry, Chief Executive Officer of the Sarawak Convention Bureau, added: “We are very pleased with the response to date and intend to expand the scholarship program in 2010.  Closing date for entries in the second round is 31st December 2009 for travel to conventions being held in 2010 or 2011.

Application forms are available from the Sarawak Convention Bureau or can be downloaded from www.businesseventssarawak.com

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