182 Report by Payne

Conference, Singapore 6 October 1949,


The Session opened in the Victoria Hall, Singapore, on Monday September 26th, and closed on Saturday October 1st.

The list of Delegates and Observers, and Secretariat, are as set out on the final page of the attached documents.

It was unfortunate that Burma, China, Ceylon, Siam and the Philippines were not represented. [1]

The Governor of Singapore, Sir Franklin Gimson, opened the meeting which was attended by a fairly representative body of the Singapore Diplomatic Corps and Commercial interests generally.

The provisional Agenda forwarded by you was not strictly adhered to, although most points raised came up for discussion.

My comments, however, are based on the Departmental notes [2] forwarded by you, and are as follows:

Part A. General Comment No question was raised throughout the Session regarding Australia's capacity for food production so I did not have any occasion to comment.

[matter omitted]

PART C. TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE See the comments on the back of Page 36.

Mr. Ellis (C.S.I.R.), representative for U.N.E.S.C.O., spoke on this and later commented as under:

1.The question of measures for the extension of technical education is of fundamental importance and high priority. The question of fellowship, it is felt, needs some revision in order to make sure that money spent in this manner is used efficiently.

It is suggested that thorough screening of candidates be pursued and that candidates be selected from those fields which are in greatest need of attention in the areas concerned. Furthermore, it should be suggested to the Governments concerned that fellowship holders be directed on their return to problems in which they have received post-graduate training. In addition, the Governments may be persuaded (by assistance perhaps from some of the U.N.

Specialised Agencies) to carefully plan a work programme on some problem or problems and select suitable people for overseas training having in mind that they should return to work as a team to tackle such problems.

2.I understand that Australia alone now appropriates something like A?0,000 per year on the fellowship programme. This is not an inconsiderable contribution to the assistance of technology in Asia. It is my feeling that some portion of this sum would be more wisely spent by bringing in specially trained personnel to set up small training centres in determined areas of Asia, so as to equip local staff to tackle their most important problems. In my opinion far too many people proceed abroad with the idea of equipping themselves with further degrees as an end in itself rather than equipping themselves with the experience to help them tackle their national problems. To do a job of work in Asia we need people who will take off their ties and get their hands dirty. These are the people who will ultimately assist in their countries' progress.

Moreover, when some persons go abroad to study they are engaged on problems peculiar to the country in which they are working, and on return to their country they cannot equate this experience with their own needs. It is suggested that experienced outsiders working with nationals of the country in question can see the problems and then, as was said above, train local men.

To carry out such a scheme as suggested here one cannot stress too much the need for full co-operation on behalf of Australia in supplying brains and experience. By giving money and neglecting the question of personnel, I believe, that Australia will come to realise that money is being spent unwisely. I realise we have in Australia a dearth of trained men and a plethora of problems, but if we subscribe to the U.N. in ?s and spirit, (and with the proposed Technical Assistance Programme Australia is likely to be confronted with further monetary contributions), and in theory are trying to promote world peace, we are falling down badly by neglecting to supplement these two items with experience.

3.On Page 3 (near bottom) it is suggested that countries be exhorted to prepare well thought out proposals'. It is the experience of several U.N. persons who work in the regions of East Asia that many of these countries are not in a position to define their needs. Here again I would refer to what I have said in (2) above, that experienced men, established in the region, are needed.

[matter omitted]

1 The countries represented by delegates were India, Pakistan, Indonesia, the Netherlands East Indies, Thailand, France, the United Kingdom and Australia. Observers attended for Korea, Japan, the United States, and for the Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East, International Labour Organization, World Health Organization and UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

2 Document 181.

[AA:A1838, 715/2/4/1]