REAAA Newsletter 2023-1

Message from the President

It is my pleasure to congratulate all members of REAAA as we celebrate our  50th anniversary. In Sept 2021, I started my role as the REAAA President and  I am excited to join REAAA during this moment in history. 2023 is a milestone  year for us- it marks our 50th anniversary.

On 17th December 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 be formed.  Subsequently, on 22nd March 1971, 90 road engineers from South East Asian  countries attending a course on ‘Road Planning, Design, Construction, and  Maintenance’ in Kuala Lumpur endorsed and supported the establishment of  such an association.

Following these events, the Public Works Department (PWD) of Peninsular  Malaysia and the Institute of Engineers, Malaysia, sponsored a Conference  on ‘Road Engineering in Asia and Australasia’ in Kuala Lumpur. One of its  main objectives was to formally launch the Association. The Organising  Committee, 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, the group was solidly united in the belief that regional cooperation  in technology would bring national progress.

On 15th June 1973, some 300 delegates from ten countries attending the Conference unanimously  resolved to form the Road Engineering Association of Asia and Australasia (REAAA) 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.

To mark this significant milestone, we have organised a special anniversary celebration that not only  honours our rich history but also highlights our unwavering commitment to innovation, growth, and  unparalleled excellence.

We have cultivated partnerships with organisations like PIARC and IRF to share experiences and  knowledge in science and technology.

As we reflect on our journey over the years, we take pride in how we have evolved and are thrilled about  the possibilities that the future holds. As REAAA prepares to celebrate its 50th anniversary, let us continue  to progress, guided by our mission to empower our members to be critical thinkers prepared for the  challenges that will face us moving ahead.

I would like to thank the Newsletter Working Committee in Taiwan who contributed to the publication of  the Newsletter.

We invite you to join our 50th anniversary celebration in Labuan Bajo, Indonesia. Your support and  attendance are valuable to us!

Those are the dreams we make real. See you in Labuan Bajo.  

Dr. Sung-Hwan KIM, REAAA President

15th June 2023


50 Years of REAAA

Compiled by Editors of Newsletter

Congratulations to REAAA for reaching an extraordinary 50 Years milestone. Throughout this remarkable  journey, the Association has been at the forefront of advancing road engineering in the Asia and  Australasia region. The unwavering commitments of all members to excellence, fostering collaboration  among professionals, and promoting the exchange of knowledge and expertise have been instrumental in  shaping the landscape of road networks. Over the past five decades, REAAA’s contributions have not only  facilitated economic growth and connectivity but have always played a critical role in road development  since 1973. We believe REAAA will continue to bring success, innovation, and a more sustainable future.

REAAA History

Regional cooperation and technical harmony are the underlying principles of the Road Engineering  Association of Asia and Australasia (REAAA). Many developing and emerging countries in Asia recognized  the importance of technology and expertise to national progress after World War II. The transfer of  technology from advanced countries outside the region did not always work under local conditions as  compared with the technical exchange between regional countries where the environmental conditions  were similar. Road engineering was no exception. In the early 1960s, a few individuals started organising  road engineering courses in the region. These courses were well received by the developing countries  and, recognising the value of these pioneering efforts, many senior members of the profession  responded by giving their energy and time to the organisation of subsequent regional activities. By the  end of the decade, it was realised that the coordination of such a major undertaking should be entrusted  to a permanent regional body charged with the promotion and advancement of the science and practice  of road engineering in the region.

At the Road Construction Seminar, held in Bangkok in 1970, participants from nine countries confirmed  the need to form an association to cater to the region’s road engineers. Some of the views expressed by  the participants included the following:

  1. Current activities in road engineering in member countries lack coordination on a regional basis.  Drawbacks included the following:

• Any research conducted in the member countries is undertaken independently and the findings  are seldom, if ever, exchanged. Duplication of effort is inevitable, resulting in a drain on resources  and expertise: a wastage that developing countries could ill afford.

• In the absence of a well-coordinated feedback channel, universities and research bodies  lack guidance from planners, designers, construction engineers, and technologists regarding  application requirements and problems occurring in the field. As a result, the emphasis on  research projects tended to be predominantly academic at the expense of immediate practicality.

• In this situation, member countries sometimes resorted to borrowing expertise from more-developed countries outside the region, a type of ‘transplant’ that does not always work under local conditions. In regional countries, however, where the environmental conditions were similar, there was a stronger case for closer liaison and mutual exchange without the risks of transplant rejection.

• The opportunities for the sharing of expertise were limited if the regions are isolated.

2. The advantages associated with having a regional road engineering association were suggested as  follows:

• Such a body could well prove a catalyst for future development and activities.

• Regional engineers associated with road planning, design construction and maintenance would  have a focal point, which they currently lacked. This would offset the dangers associated with  the localised approach, which had too narrow a focus. An association within a regional body  could stimulate the cross-fertilisation of ideas, open up mental horizons, and create better  understanding amongst member countries at both the national level and the level of the  individual practitioner.

• Better functional links could be established through the parent body bringing together road  planners, designers, construction engineers, technologists, machinery manufacturers and all the  other services and traders associated with road engineering.

• A regional information service centre on road engineering would also function to promote closer  cooperation.

As a result, it was proposed at the Seminar that a regional road engineering association should be  formed. It was felt appropriate that the launching of the association coincided with a regional road  engineering conference. Mr. Nibon Rananand of the Department of Highways, Thailand, and Mr. YC Yuen  of Malaysia were charged with investigating and initiating steps to bring this about.

Subsequent discussions took place in both Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur, and on 22 March 1971, the  then Minister of Works, Post  and Telecommunications of Malaysia, Tun VT Sambanthan, declared  the Malaysian Government’s support for the formation of a regional road association at the opening  ceremony of the Road Planning, Design, Construction and Maintenance Course held in Kuala Lumpur.

Meanwhile, the Public Works Department, West Malaysia, had been working on this project, more lately  in conjunction with the Institute of Engineers, Malaysia. These two organisations jointly sponsored a  Conference on Road Engineering in Asia and Australasia in June 1973. One of the main objectives of the  conference was to explore the formation of the Road Engineering Association of Asia and Australasia  (REAAA).

Mr. Thean Lip Thong, who was then the Director-General of Public Works, West Malaysia, and also the  Chairman of the conference, was invited to write a Foreword to a Manual of the Formation of the Road  Engineering Association of Asia and Australasia.

On Friday 15 June 1973, some 300 participants from 19 countries who were attending the Conference  on Road Engineering in Asia and Australasia in Kuala Lumpur unanimously resolved that the Road  Engineering Association of Asia and Australasia be formed, with a permanent Secretariat in Kuala Lumpur.  The objectives of the Association as stated in the Constitution (1973) are as follows:

• To promote and advance the science and practice of road engineering and related professions.

• To encourage communication between persons charged with the technical responsibility for the planning, design, construction and maintenance of roads and allied structures.

• To obtain and diffuse among the members, information on road engineering and related matters  affecting the profession, and to print, sell, publish, issue and circulate the records of transactions  of the association or any papers, periodicals, books, circulars and other literary undertakings or  any extracts therefrom as may seem conducive to any of these objects.

• To educate and seek to improve, extend and elevate the technical and general knowledge of  members and persons concerned with road engineering.

• To serve as a focal point for the exchange of ideas related to road engineering.

• To conduct, encourage and collate research in road engineering.

• To establish, form and maintain an index of available or existing literature and articles of interest  in connection with road engineering.

• To cooperate, as may seem conducive to any of these objects, with national and international  organisation and to support and supplement their work.

First Council Term

The first Governing Council consisting of 15 members was elected with Mr. Thean Lip Thong, the Director  of Public Works of Malaysia, and Mr. Chaleo Vajrabukka, the Director of Highway Bureau of Thailand,  serving as the first President and the Vice President, respectively. The members of the first governing  council are shown in Figure1 and listed in Table 1. Participation and involvement of public officials are the  characteristics of REAAA as most of the council members are serving as the heads of the road authorities  of member countries at the same time. As of 2023, REAAA has about 1,400 members from 24 countries.

Figure 1: Members of Governing Council (1st term 1973-1976)
Seated from left: Harry Y.C. Huen, Chaleo Vajrabukka, Then Lip Thong, John James W. Laurie  Standing from left: K.R. MacKenzie, Nibon Rananand, Chai Muktabhant

Table1: List of First REAAA Governing Council

PresidentThean Lip ThongMalaysia
Vice PresidentChaleo VajrabukkaThailand
Honorary Secretary GeneralHarry Y.C. HuenMalaysia
Honorary Treasurer GeneralJohn James W. LaurieAustralia
Council MemberK.R. Mackenzie,Australia
Council MemberNibon RananandThailand
Council MemberMahfoz bin Khalid,Malaysia
Council MemberLiew Him Wai,Singapore
Council MemberYoshio Ueda,Japan
Council MemberMajor-Gen. K.C. Soni,India
Council MemberSuryatin Sastromijoyo,Indonesia
Council MemberF.H.P. Williams,Australia
Council MemberG.M. YoganandanSri Lanka
Council MemberT.A. ArkinsonAustralia
Council MemberChai Muktabhant.Thailand

REAAA President

Since 1974, there have been a total of 17 presidents in REAAA.

REAAA Conference, Forum and Meeting

REAAA Conference was held every 2 to 4 years in different member countries. The 1st Conference  was held in Bangkok, Thailand over five days from February 16thto February 20th, 1976. Over 700  representatives from 24 countries participated in the event with a total of 53 papers published. The most  recent REAAA Conference is the 16thConference took place from September 10thto September 15thin  2021 in Manila, Philippines. As a result of the impact of Covid-19, this conference was conducted online  through the Zoom platform. Table 3 lists all the REAAA Conferences.

The Heads of Road Authorities Meeting (abbreviated as HORA meeting), initiated by REAAA, is a platform  for communication, exchange and sharing of knowledge and experience among road authorities of the  countries in Asia and Australasia region. Twelve HORA meetings have taken place since the year 2002.  The main themes being discussed included road asset management, disaster risk management, road  network operation effectiveness, Public-Private Partnerships, and so on. Table 4 lists the HORA Meetings  that have been held thus far.

Honorary Members

REAAA individual members who have been devoted to services for the society of the association and  with outstanding eminence in the advancement of road engineering technology or engineering practice  are eligible to be selected as honorary members. Constrained by the high threshold standards, only 49  persons have been elected as honorary members up until 2023.

The Official Launch of  Smart Highway Award

Issued by REAAA and CRF

China Road Federation (CRF) has been promoting its corporation with international road engineering  societies ever since its first participation in the 2nd Governing Council Meeting of REAAA in 1978. As a  long-term member of the REAAA, CRF is willing to establish the Smart Highway Award as a gratitude for  the long-term support from REAAA. The Award has been set up according to the endorsement of 119th  REAAA Council Meeting in 2023.

The Award aims to recognize REAAA members for their outstanding achievement and contribution to  the development and application of smart highway management systems, as well as exchange and share  the experience in smart highway development, and promote cross-disciplinary integration and smart  technology applications for road engineering in response to the rapid advancement of AI, 5G, Big Data,  IoT and other smart technologies.

The Award is sponsored by the CRF; the Fund of the Award is sponsored by the Far Eastern Electronic Toll  Collection Company (FETC) as a member of CRF. Award recipient shall receive 20,000 US dollars as the  prize money and an award plaque with the following texts inscribed.

Successful 119th REAAA  Governing Council Meeting

The 119thGoverning Council meeting was held on 9thMay 2023 at the Carlton Hotel Singapore, in  conjunction with the Dialogue Session Roads Less Travelled – “Navigating Challenges and Opportunities  of Sustainable Road Development”. The dialogue included a selection of presenters from Korea,  Malaysia and Singapore. The presentations selected for the dialogue addressed the topics of “Navigating  Challenges and Opportunities of Sustainable Road Development”. The session was successful, with more  than 60 participants attending including, President, Dr. Sung Hwan Kim, Vice President(s), Mr. Katsugi  Hashiba, Dr. Ir Hedy Rahadian, Honorary Secretary-General, Ir. Mohd Shahrom Ahmad Saman, Honorary  Tresurer-General, Ms. Nonon, and Council members from Indonesia, Korea, Japan, Malaysia, Taiwan, and  the host country, Singapore. The YEP members and the secretariat members from the member countries  also attended the dialogue.

Group photo: Presenters with President REAAA.
Group photo : 119th Governing Council meeting in Carlton Hotel, Singapore, and Hybrid.
Members at the 23rd YEP meeting.
Participants upon arrival at Samwoh Smart Hub.