I am very proud to stand here this evening to accept this prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Award on behalf of the ASIAN INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY (AIT).
My pride and pleasure are greater since you honor not one person but the many who have made the INSTITUTE what it is today.
It may be significant that the Magsaysay Award Foundation and the AIT were conceived at the same point in history: one to continue in Asia the ideals of a great leader after his tragic death, the other to halt the flow out of Asia of future leaders in science and technology. While today we remember the vision of the late Ramon Magsaysay, we honor, too, the foresight of Dr. Pote Sarasin who, as secretary general of the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO), saw as a building block for peace the creation of an international postgraduate engineering school.
Further, just as the achievements of Ramon Magsaysay Award winners have brought substance to the ideals of the Foundation, so have the endeavors and successes of the more than four thousand INSTITUTE alumni provided the basis of today?s signal honor. These AIT graduates live as friends, colleagues?indeed as one family that crosses national boundaries and differences in political ideology and religion. This corps of dedicated persons represents the success of the Institute: it is the source of our honor and our pride.
It is clear, however, that this body of scientists and technologists would not have come into being without the effort of all those who have created, supported, and staffed AIT. I speak of people like our first president, Dr. Milton E. Bender, Jr., who worked to achieve the international breadth, financial independence, and academic autonomy that we enjoy today; people like our current board of trustees, so ably led by Dr. Thanat Khoman, whose wisdom guides our operations; and the governments that provide most of the financing to bring students to the INSTITUTE and the facilities to teach them.
I should like to recognize particularly the governments of Pakistan, the Philippines, and Thailand, which supported our creation as the SEATO Graduate School of Engineering, and especially the government of Thailand, the host nation, which lends inestimable support to the INSTITUTE and so to the countries that it serves.
I must mention the generosity of the United States of America, without whose aid AIT could never have started, and whose contributions over thirty years still total more than those of any other donor nation. I want, too, to recognize the tremendous input today of nations that thirty years ago were not major contributors of international aid: the Federal Republic of Germany, Canada, Australia, and Japan. Today almost all the industrialized nations of the world support the INSTITUTE and its tasks in Asia.
But the ambitions of students, the vision of benefactors, and the objectives of the INSTITUTE cannot be realized without the dedication and excellence of the staff. These, my colleagues, I represent this evening. I am proud that this corporate teamwork is symbolized by the presence here on this wonderful occasion of the president of the alumni association and graduate of the very first class, Professor Srisakdi Charmonman, and of my two vice-presidents, Professor Ricardo P. Pama and Professor Helmut Eggers. As citizens of Thailand, the Philippines, and the Federal Republic of Germany, respectively, they illustrate the East-West partnership of which our founders, and I am sure the late Ramon Magsayeay, dreamed.
Ladies and gentlemen, as I accept this award on behalf of AIT, I and my colleagues pledge that we shall continue to do everything in our power to uphold and to further the vision and the service to Asia that characterize the awardees with whom we are honored to be listed.