Sayyidina Hasan wins PRYNSA 10

Five teams competed in a show of academic and environmental prowess at the awards ceremony of the 10th Princess Rashidah Young Nature Scientist Award (PRYNSA) yesterday afternoon at the Rizqun International Hotel, Gadong.

Sayyidina Hasan Secondary School outshone four other teams from PIHM Secondary School, St Andrew's School, Seri Mulia Sarjana School and Maktab Sains Paduka Seri Begawan Sultan in what the judges called the best submission in terms of data, images, and illustrations through explicit and prudent rationale.

HRH Princess Hjh Rashidah Sa'adatul Bolkiah graced the award ceremony, accompanied by HRH Princess Hjh Majeedah Nuurul Bulqiah.

Also present during the award ceremony were the Minister of Industry and Primary Resources Pehin Orang Kaya Setia Pahlawan Dato Seri Setia Dr Awg Hj Ahmad bin Hj Jumat, MIPR Deputy Minister Dato Paduka Awg Hj Hamdillah bin Hj Abdul Wahab, as well as the permanent secretary, deputy permanent secretary, foreign dignitaries and several other government officials.

Hj Saidin bin Salleh, Director of Forestry and Chairman of yesterday's event, fully advocated the programme's objective in inspiring an ardent interest in management and conservation of the country's natural resources.

"The global community is very much worried now with the significant change in the climate, the increase in temperature, the rise of sea-water level, the depletion of the ozone layer, desertification, the alarming rate of melting ice and the rate of biodiversity loss and the only solution they see now is to leave the least amount of carbon footprints on earth," said the director.

He cited Brunei Darussalam's pioneer endeavour through the Heart of Borneo (HoB) initiative, which was signed by Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia last year in Bali.

The approval of the establishment of the National HoB Council and centre in April this year has compounded the country's efforts in tackling environmental issues gripping the world and has set the pace for the rest of the global community.

Brunei's commitment and support in tackling adverse climatic conditions and its negative impact on socio-economy and the environment is evident through its participation in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which fights to reduce emissions of greenhouse gasses, and the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) to combat desertification and land degradation.

On July 27, Brunei will become the 191st nation to join the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), supporting global efforts in reducing loss of biodiversity.

In another step forward, the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources has recently signed a MoU with NITE Japan, which further enhances the capacity building of the human resource of the country in the area of research.

Hj Saidin from the National Institute of Technology and Evaluation (NITE), whose work in microbial discoveries and development has been beneficial to Japan's economy, considered Brunei to be rich in potential micro-organisms of biological and economic importance.

Twenty schools participated in the PRYNSA competition with only five reaching the finals.

Sayyidina Hasan's winning presentation focussed on 'Plant Defence Mechanism: Are Mymecophytic Macaranga Always Better Protected to Herbivores Than Other Non-Myrmecophytic Macaranga?' which, in laymen's terms, studies the unique relationship between a plant and an animal as seen through ant-plant interaction.

Team member, Rhona Apolinar Britania, couldn't be prouder of her winning team.

"Our win was quite unexpected," she said with enthusiasm. "We worked (on the project) for about a year, sacrificing our holidays and free time but it was all worth it," she added.

"The biggest challenge was not the long hours and hard work, but getting the ants to cooperate and counting their total number," said Mat Voon, a fellow teammate, with a smile.

As winners of the competition, the team of eight walked away with B$3,000, trophies, a laptop and each with a Headstart account worth B$50 from HSBC, presented by HRH Princess Hjh Rashidah Sa'adatul Bolkiah.

Runner up, Seri Mulia Sarjana School, and second runner up, PIHM Secondary School, received similar prizes with cash amounting to B$2,000 and B$1,000 respectively. Consolation prizes were also presented to the other two teams.

Later that afternoon, HRH Princess Rashidah had the opportunity to meet the participating teams as she viewed a mini exhibition of their respective projects.

Sponsored by Brunei Shell Petroleum Company, PRYNSA was first organised in 1997 to nurture excellence among the youths, specifically in the field of natural sciences. - Borneo Bulletin (24th July 2008)