Thursday, October 07, 2010

Trip to Melbourne

You might have watched the video excerpt of my little speech at the University of Melbourne forum organised by the Malaysia Australia Students Council Association (MASCA) of Victoria. Here's someone else who blogged on the event. ;-)

Are we there yet?
C K Chin

I attended the Malaysian Aspiration Programme (MAP) organised by MASCA Victoria yesterday. The fact that Tony Pua was among the speakers (the other two being Tunku Zain Al’Abidin Muhriz, prince of Negeri Sembilan, and Assoc. Prof Abdul Razak Ahmad, a professor from UM) gave me the motivation to attend the event.

So it was important Tony Pua did not disappoint. I can see why this Oxford PPE-ist is making such rapid progress in his political career. He was earnest in his arguments and backed them all up with simple logic and mathematics. I was really impressed with the way he summoned the audience to read up about the newly-proposed ETP. He criticised it (he is from the opposition), but showed great bi-partisanship to acknowledge the idea, if not the feasibility, of the ETP. Questions to him were returned with answers that were critical, structured, and most of the time with humour and wit - a reflection of his PPE education.

The prince, Tunku Zain, was for me, a surprise bonus to the forum. I am not surprised by his privileged education background (Alice Smith, Marlborough College, LSE), but more so with his achievements at such a young age. He worked in the House of Lords in the UK, in the UN in New York, and is now the chairman of IDEAS, a think tank in Malaysia. Again, he demonstrated what a difference education can make of a person. He spoke with a confidence and a sense of credibility that we lack as youths. He criticised the government over issues regarding concerts and alcohol. It is encouraging to see this influential Malay youth talking with common sense.

The same cannot be said of Assoc Prof Abdul Razak though. Although he attempts to distance himself with the old-thinkers, his examples of himself being supportive of change were poor and acted more as excuses rather than reasons. Although he was in general denouncing the NEP policies, he still maintained that a compromise should be struck between Malays and non-Malays. Why can’t we just have an NEP that helps the poor, no matter what race? This may not be his fault. This just shows the difficulty of taking the issue of race out of the equation. However, I acknowledge his intentions of having change in Malaysia, and his rejections of the old ways.

All in all, the event was a good injection of encouragement and inspiration. If the speakers represent the general makeup of our society, we may not be far from a true 1Malaysia. Yet, the general trait of the three speakers - an accountable politician, an inspiring youth leader and a pragmatic educator - is that they are all extremely well-educated, a fact that cannot be applied to the general public of Malaysia. Therefore, education plays an important role, if not the key role, of us reaching our goal to be a successful nation.

Finally, the conversation between an immigrant from Malaysia who currently lives here and Tony Pua struck me most.

“I have been here for 24 years. Back in Malaysia, there is no acknowledgment of my value to the country. Now that I am settled here, the government is asking me to go back. Shouldn’t we be asking what the country can do for us, rather than what we can do for the country?”

In which Tony replied, “I see Malaysia as my home. So when it has termites, or when its roof is leaking, or when it is in need of repainting, I make sure I’m the one who gets rid of the termites, that I repair the leak, that i coat the place with new paint.”

I cannot agree more.
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