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.
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:
- 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.
Table1: List of First REAAA Governing Council
|Thean Lip Thong
|Honorary Secretary General
|Harry Y.C. Huen
|Honorary Treasurer General
|John James W. Laurie
|Mahfoz bin Khalid,
|Liew Him Wai,
|Major-Gen. K.C. Soni,
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.
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.