The Birth of Road Engineering Association of Asia and Australasia
The Road Engineering Association of Asia and Australasia, REAAA was officially established on 15 June 1973.
Regional co-operation and technical harmony are the underlying principles of the Association.
After the Second World War, developing and emerging countries in Asia recognised the importance of technology and expertise to national progress. Technology transfer from advanced countries outside the region did not always work under local conditions as compared with technical exchange between regional countries where the environment factors were similar. Road engineering was no exception and, in the early 1960s, a few individuals started organising road engineering courses for the region. These courses were well received by the developing countries. In recognising the values of these pioneer efforts, many senior members of the profession responded by giving their energy and time to undertake subsequent regional activities. By the end of that decade, it was realised that the co-ordination of such a major undertaking for the region should be entrusted to the hands of a permanent regional body for the promotion and advancement of the science and practice of road engineering.
On Thursday, December 17, 1970, participants from nine countries attending a Road Construction Seminar in Bangkok identified the need for a Regional Engineering Association and proposed that such an Association should be formed. Nibon Rananand and Harry Huen were charged with investigating and initiating steps to bring this about. Subsequently on Monday, March 22, 1971, 90 road engineers from South East Asian countries attending a Road Planning, Design, Construction and Maintenance Course in Kuala Lumpur endorsed and supported the establishment of such an Association.
Immediately following these events, the Public Works Department Peninsular Malaysia and the Institute of Engineers, Malaysia sponsored a Conference on Road Engineering in Asia and Australasia. One of its main objectives was to formally launch the Association. The Organising Committee of the Conference, under the chairmanship of Mr. Thean Lip Thong, entrusted the preparation for the formation of the Association to a select group consisting of senior members of the engineering profession and leading business administrators. Though there were divergent professional interests, they were, however, solidly united in the belief that regional co-operation in technology would bring national progress. Towards this ideal, they devoted their personal efforts and resources.
On Friday, June 15, 1973, some 300 delegates from 10 countries attending the Conference on Road Engineering in Asia & Australasia held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, unanimously resolved to form the Association with a permanent secretariat in Kuala Lumpur. A Governing Council consisting of 15 members was elected and the Association began to function with Mr. Thean Lip Thong of Malaysia as the First President of the Association.
First Council Term
Members of the Governing Council (1st Term 1973-1976) Seated from left: Harry Huen (Hon. Secretary General), Chaleo Vajrabukka (Vice President), Thean Lip Thong (President), J.J.W. Laurie (Hon. Treasurer General). Standing from left: K.R. Mackenzie, Nobon Rananand and Chai Muktabhant.
Members not in the picture: Mahfoz bin Khalid, Liew Him Wai, Yoshio Ueda, Major-Gen. K.C. Soni, Suryatin Sastromijoyo, F.H.P. Williams, G.M. Yoganandan and T.A. Arkinson.