I recall fond memories of Dr. Tun Lwin, former Director-General, Department of Meteorology and Hydrology (DMH), Myanmar, and Chair of the Regional Steering Committee of the Indian Ocean and Southeast Asia Multi-Hazard Early Warning System, the institutional mechanism through which RIMES was created. Dr. Tun Lwin passed away on 4 November 2019, at the age of 71.
Dr. Tun Lwin at the 1st meeting of the Regional Steering Committee of the Indian Ocean and Southeast Asia Multi-Hazard Early Warning System, 25 January 2008, Bangkok
I first met Dr. Tun Lwin in February 2005, when I undertook a mission to Myanmar for setting up a sea level monitoring network for the regional tsunami early warning system. He was then Deputy Director-General of DMH. His passion, commitment, and devotion to meteorological services was mesmerizing. He shared that his daughter, a medical doctor, could save a number of people, but forecasters like him could save thousands of lives.
He was very much concerned about the inadequate appreciation in global/regional mechanisms of the special needs of least-developed and low-capacity countries, thereby compelling UNESCO Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission’s Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System (IOC-IOTWS) mechanism to pay attention to this aspect. At the Fifth Session of the Intergovernmental Coordination Group for IOTWS in April 2008 in Kuala Lumpur, Dr. Tun Lwin articulated, with powerful oratory skill, the requirement for an international institution that will take care of special needs of less resource-endowed countries. Right there, the sowed seeds for RIMES’ establishment emerged.
Dr. Tun Lwin exhibited extraordinary leadership qualities with deep commitment in spearheading RIMES establishment, as Chair of the Regional Steering Committee of the Indian Ocean and Southeast Asia Multi-Hazard Early Warning System, with Maldives as Secretariat. The Task was to establish RIMES against a non-forgiving deadline of less than a year, from the Regional Steering Committee’s first meeting on 24-25 January 2008. He held a series of meetings with participating countries in April, August, and November 2008, completed RIMES’ governance and financial mechanisms, and evolved and circulated the Draft RIMES Cooperation Agreement in December 2008, for signing and adoption. Indeed, Dr. Tun Lwin’s contributions to RIMES establishment were invaluable; they will always be remembered with fondness and gratitude.
Director, RIMES Program Unit
8 November 2019