Speaker : Dr Wendy Smith - Director, Centre for Malaysian Studies, Monash University
Venue : Carillo Gantner Theatre, Sidney Myer Asia Centre, University of Melbourne
Date : October 11th, 2008
Event : Seminar Pembangunan Insan 2008
YANG AMAT BERBAHAGIA TUN DR. MAHATHIR MOHAMED, YANG AMAT BERBAHAGIA TUN DR. SITI HASMAH HAJI ALI, YANG BERGAHAGIA DATIN PADUKA MARINA MAHATHIR, TAN SRI dan PUAN SERI, DATUK dan DATIN, TETAMU KEHORMAT, TUAN-TUAN dan PUAN-PUAN,
Dengan penuh gembira dan sukacita saya mengalu-ngalukan kedatangan YANG AMAT BERBAHAGIA TUN DR. MAHATHIR MOHAMED dan YANG AMAT BERBAHAGIA TUN DR. SITI HASMAH HAJI ALI ke Melbourne, Australia dan ke Majlis yang istimewa ini.
Izinkan saya menghadiahkan serangkap pantun sebagai alu-aluan:
Pulau Jati berpekan enggang,
Sungai Bidara penuh gelama,
Pedagang berkayuh terus ke hilir,
Harimau pergi meninggalkan belang,
Manusia bersara meninggalkan nama,
Untuk Malaysia tokohnya Tun Mahathir
Sekarang izinkan saya menyampaikan ucapan dalam Bahasa Inggeris.
Tun Mahathir, we welcome you to address the forum today as you have played a most central and critical role in the transformation of Malaysian society over past decades, with extremely forward looking ideas and policies which have been proven to cater for the current and future welfare of Malaysian youth.
Malaysian society underwent rapid social change from the New Economic Policy era, with the creation of many new universities and colleges, providing career paths for young people into the professions, and waged employment in the government and private sectors.
I lived in Malaysia for nine years during the second decade of the New Economic Policy and I observed these changes directly. Overnight, young people were the first in their families to hold a tertiary degree, and the size of the middle class expanded rapidly.
Your period in office saw the creation of tremendous opportunities for young people such as those embodied in:
· the Look East Policy, with off shore technical training and education in Japan and South Korea and the motivational soft ware of Japanese work ethics.
· Your “hands-on” approach to I.T. innovation – surely an area in which young people excel in all societies – and the national level I.T. agenda embodied in the Multimedia Super Corridor.
· Your emphasis on sport with the staging of the magnificent Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur in 1998
· Your dedication to modern transport systems, making automobiles accessible to families from a wide range of income levels, and the provision of modern commuter and light rail systems, for young people to use in their new careers and consumer lifestyles.
· Your dedication to making Malaysia a nation which its citizens can be truly proud of in a global context, with the magnificent KLIA international airport, which we all enjoy every time we go there, the Formula One track at Sepang and the sky sculptures which dominate the Kuala Lumpur cityscape, the Petronas Twin Towers.
Tun Mahathir, with your economic, educational and technological policies you have charted a trajectory for Malaysian society and Malaysian young people, giving them a clear goal and timeframe to aim for in your Vision 2020 document, which presents young Malaysians with the “nine challenges” for realizing a “a united Malaysian nation, or Bangsa Malaysia”, to quote
“with a confident society, infused by strong moral and ethical values, living in a society that is democratic, liberal and tolerant, caring, economically just and equitable, progressive and prosperous, and in full possession of an economy that is competitive, dynamic, robust and resilient”.
Moreover, you have also created a solid grounding for Malaysia’s engagement with other countries, not only through your Chairing of the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the Non Aligned Movement but also through championing the importance of regional economic trade, agendas many of the graduates here today will live through in their subsequent careers.
We in Australia are very happy to have been able to join hands over the years with Malaysian young people who came to study in our universities, over 250,000 since the 1950s, and these Australian university alumni have gone back to lead Malaysia in medicine, finance, the arts, education, law, science and technology, in fact, in all professions and disciplines.
Equally, Australian universities, Monash, Curtin and Swinburne, have been permitted to set up full branch campuses in Malaysia and these are now a context for Australian students to experience life in Malaysia and complete part of their degrees there.
During your term of office, in 1993, the world’s first Centre for Malaysian Studies was established, in an Australian university, Monash, to recognize the importance of a focus on Malaysian studies within Asian Studies disciplines.
And more recently, the Australia Malaysia Institute, a bilateral council established by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, has awarded, since 2005, 7 fellowships for Australians to research Malaysia related topics in Malaysia and 16 for Malaysians to do research in Australia on both Australian studies topics (6) and collaborative research in any discipline (10).
We hope the future of Malaysian and Australian young people will continue to draw closer and closer together in the contexts of education, sports, I.T., medical and safety research, religious exchanges and trade and investment. The forum today is an important step in that agenda.
The inspirations embodied in your legacy tower over us like your brainchild, the Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur, which are praised in the book Skyscrapers – a History of the World’s most famous and important skyscrapers (Judith Dupre, 1996) as having “ a design based on traditional Islamic geometries in which complexity is a metaphor for the incomprehensibility of God”.
Thank you so much, Tun Dr Mahathir and welcome to our forum in Melbourne.