Sunday, October 12, 2008

Seminar Pembangunan Insan 2008 – Melbourne (I)

On October 11th, MyM (Malaysian Youths Melbourne) organized a Seminar Pembangunan Insan. The Speakers for this event were Jack Delosa, Professor Dr Danny Samson, and Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. The event was held at Carillo Gantner Theatre, Sidney Myer Asia Centre, The University of Melbourne.

Jack Delosa started the event with an inspirational talk on how to turn goals, decisions and dreams into action. His style of motivation is very different and we were very impressed. Formally, his presentation was titled “The Winner’s Edge”.

Professor Dr Danny Samson then took over the floor and delivered a speech on Business Challenges of The Next Generation Leaders.

Soon, after lunch, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad arrived to a rousing reception. It was a touching moment for me as it was my very first time seeing Tun deliver a speech live, although I have met Tun during his Raya open house in Seri Perdana a long time ago.

After the national anthem, Abang Izhar (President of MyM) delivered his speech as organizing chairperson and soon followed by Dr Wendy, the Director of Malaysian Studies Institute at the Monash University.

Dr Wendy was very fluent with her Malay language in her speech before Tun’s in which she praised Tun for his efforts under the New Economic Policy, Development Policy and Tun’s vision as well as leadership that led Malaysia to what we all see today.

She then stressed that she personally experienced the NEP and saw Malaysia boomed into such a great country. Dr Wendy stayed in Malaysia for 9 years.

I had a chat with her briefly during the VIP tea session and she shared her lovely opinions of Malaysia with us. At a point during her speech, she mistakenly used the phrase “We Malaysians ….”. It went on to capture the crowds’ hearts as she felt like she is a Malaysian also.

Generally, in her speech, she had high respects for Tun and hoped that Australia and Malaysia can have good relations in the future in many areas.

Dr Wendy had a pantun for Tun and I was very impressed. I am currently attempting to get a copy of Dr Wendy’s speech to be placed in this blog. I will post it here as soon as I received it.

In YABhg Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s speech, Tun spoke on the history of Malaysia, the globalized world and took a shot at the Western ideologies.

Tun elaborated on the challenges of the Sultanate and the Malay struggle in the beginning and moved towards topics on the financial turmoil, the failure of the Bretton Wood system, the criticisms of the Western superpowers where the weak are bullied into receiving only “the tailends” while the powerful gets everything.

Tun Dr Mahathir also stressed that there should not be blind loyalty to the Government and there should be a measured criticism of the Government because massive opposition against the Government be it in demonstrations etc will cause unrest and instability.

Later, there was a Q&A session where students were allowed to ask questions. Among the questions ask were regarding the :

financial crisis and the Islamic finance sector
to which Tun replied on explanation of gold dinar, worthless paper currency today, and Tun took slammed US for their bailout that today totaled to USD 1.4 trillion.

the challenges of Asia in facing pressure from the West on global warming
to which Tun replied that the West were the ones who started clearing their forests first but now they are criticizing developing countries for chopping trees. Tun then sarcastically said that many still thought Malaysians were living on trees and since they are our “homes”, we need to keep them.

the AUKU and encouragement of students in politics
to which Tun took a vague shot at Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim. Tun replied that before he was Education Minister, there was no AUKU. Tun said that meant he was responsible for AUKU but Tun further commented that “I was responsible at a time when students were irresponsible”.

Students at that time were actively demonstrating against the Government and creating unrest at campuses. Tun further commented that there was a student who always held and organized demonstrations and Tun said that this “student” is still around now.

Tun continued by saying that when the police wanted to see this “student” at his house, he was never around. (VIDEO PROVIDED in next article – coming soon).

the lowest point of Tun Dr Mahathir
to which Tun replied that it was during the Mahathir – Razeleigh battle where he won by a mere 40 plus votes. Tun said that it was his low point because he received about 3/4 of the nominations but when the voting results were out, he won by a slim majority only.

Tun further commented that he later discovered that some parties were buying votes and caused himself to nearly lose the Presidency of UMNO.

Right after the Q&A session, before the closing of the event, a few student leaders from other states were ushered out of the hall to proceed to a foyer upstairs. I was among the privileged.

We waited for Tun at the foyer and got to know a few other students. From Canberra, it was me, Yeam and Aimran while the rest of the students were from Adelaide, Erina (my college friend) from Sydney and there was a buddy Ridhwan from as far as Auckland, New Zealand.

Tun had a photo session with the organizing committee and came up to the foyer soon after. We were introduced by Abang Izhar to Tun Dr Mahathir and Tun Dr Siti Hasmah at the foyer (perhaps a beautiful balcony would be a better description).

We spent some time taking photos with Tun Dr M and Tun Dr Siti Hasmah and there were official photographers and press there too. Tun Dr Siti Hasmah had a few words with me at the foyer and asked about Canberra.

Tun Dr Siti Hasmah then invited me and the other students to join her for some tea. Abang Izhar talked to Tun over tea while me and Yeam had a great chat with Tun Dr Siti Hasmah throughout the time.

Tun Dr Siti Hasmah shared some of her personal life with us and of Tun Dr Mahathir. I respect all privacy but to a question about whether Datuk Mukhriz was here in Melbourne or not, Tun Dr Siti replied that her son is currently very busy with the country and party.

Later, Tun Dr Siti Hasmah and Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had a picture with us Canberrans at the tea table. Invited guests, speakers and sponsors were there too.

Honestly, I was nervous to sit at the VIP table. Erina and I were hesitant at first but were ushed to quickly sit with our honorable guests. There were side tables and I was glad to see Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir there too. I walked over and kindly requested to have a picture with her and Dr Wendy.

The event moved on at the dining hall with reporters, businessmen, and academicians talking to Tun Dr Mahathir and they had a photography session. The tea session ended at slightly before 5 pm.

Before I left, I had a great chat with two PhD students studying Malaysian politics under Professor Greg Barton of the Monash University.

Professor Greg Barton and his two students talked to a few of us about our scholarships, about Malaysia and about Tun Dr Mahathir. One of the PhD students said that “he comes from a country where Dr Mahathir is more famous than his political leaders”.

According to him, over the past week, there were news reports in Bangladesh speculating that Tun Dr Mahathir will be coming back to lead the country and it will be a good thing for Asia. News from Bangladesh.

As a whole, it was a great event and I have to thank Abang Izhar, the organizing President, and Abang Sufi, Tun’s PA, for the opportunity and session with the honorable guests. I will never forget this event!

I will upload pictures and videos in another blog entry.

- end -


Anonymous said...

lucky for you as a chinese, you actually got a scholarship. mahathir is a racist bigot and a hypocrite. there is so much evidence for this i can't even begin to start. as long as he gets his way, he justifies it. he used the ISA to control dissidents but now that he hasn't got control, he is against it. he knocked off the judiciary when they didn't agree with him, he collected a huge cronies list and accumulated huge amounts of wealth but it's all ok. malaysia is now the biggest exporter of (non-malay) brains in the world. and he pretends to be this martyr. he should piss off back to malaysia. is he coming to australia to see how a fair meritocratic country works?

Wei Liang Goh said...

well, that is what some are telling me. my standard reply is that if u have the evidence, go ahead and report to the authorities. otherwise, this will only be classified as fitnah or hearsays which are bad for our country. for your information, there were many Chinese in that hall too. everyone supports Tun in one way or another. It is a democratic country even back in malaysia. To chase him back to Malaysia in your words and thoughts, aren't you going against the principles of freedom and democracy?

dt said...

I guess you can respect him but you don't have to be a Mahathir apologist and defender. He has left a mixed legacy in his time. He still holds bitterly to an anti-colonial world view that 'the imperialists are out to get us'. I also found it quite shocking when he made comparisons on governance with Singapore and how socially 'imbalanced' they are. That made me cringe. Have you been to Singapore recently? There is a world of difference between the minority groups there and the minority groups in Malaysia. Just ask the Hindraf supporters. I'm a Malaysian Chinese and I was in that hall, I give him my respect as a statesman, but I cannot drag myself into the mud by agreeing with his prejudiced views and being his apologist and defender.

Wei Liang Goh said...

well, i do not blindly defend dr Mahathir. I merely voiced my unhappiness over sweeping statements about Tun's history. Every leader has their upsides and downsides. It all depends on which of these perspectives that you want to adopt more, the good or the bad. Given the liberty, I chose the good. However, I respect the diversity of views and I love to meet great people who talk about politics. It is nice knowing you. I wish I had talked to you and got to know you on that day. We are after all, Malaysians.

Anonymous said...

Hello anonymous,

I am surprised that you didn't know that there are many non-Malay scholars sent by the Malaysian government under various scholarships. While they may not form the majority in numbers, they certainly get a significant portion of the scholarships.

Perhaps you were hidden in a cocoon narrow not even to realise the existence of such scholarship, or perhaps not qualified for them or perhaps form the upper classes of the Malaysian society (thus migrating overseas), that you happen not to hang out with ppl like manifestogwl, who actually tried hard and secured his scholarship.

No matter who you are, problems with current Malaysian national politics, must not be confused with the National Economic Restructuring.

The post-1969 socio-economic restructuring of society to eradicate poverty and to bridge social gaps, in various forms of affirmative action, MUST not be confused with Mahathir's leadership and his role as the Prime Minister (and his failures).

Both (affirmative action and Mahathir's reign) are different issues to consider, and to confuse that taking it from the communitarian perspective shows your own racial bent.

Besides, there is no direct strong evidence and correlation that affirmative action causing minority emigration, apart from personal opinion.

Emigration overseas pre-independence and post-independence has been regular with many people seeking better livelihood in more developed Western countries, and this trend is happening everywhere including our neighbour Singapore (which is facing brain drain as well).

Besides, your rather simplistic view of meritocracy (which is non-existent and sociologically / philosophically problematic) is not convincing enough.

Perhaps you should see more of the world and interact with more people, before you lash out your Chinese idealism and superiority complex.