Tuesday, January 20, 2009

...confidential notes by the ambassador?


I missed the 2009 Strategic Outlook Forum last week so I thought I must not miss the book launch above that took place this morning at 10 am, Royal Lake Club, Kuala Lumpur, by HE the US Ambassador in the presence of HRH Raja Nazrin. The launch was put up by ASLI, the book was published by the Institute of South East Asian Studies (ISEAS) Singapore. I was amazed at the turnout (having been in publishing a long time ago, I sure do know how difficult it was to get people to attend book launches especially if its not a bestseller list). Many familiar faces were there, Datuk Prof Visu Sinnadurai former Dean UM Law faculty, Tan Sri Emeritus Professor Khoo Kay Kim, Tan Sri Kishu, Richard Tankesly of New Zealand but a malaysian resident (the first bumiputeh as he likes to introduce himself all the time...hahaha), Tan Sri Zaini Chairman of northern ECR and BERNAMA, Datuk Rafiah, Faris, James Beltram, Fung former vice president British Graduates Association of Malaysia (BGAM), members of the Royal Commonwealth Association, United Nations Association of Malaysia (UNMA), corporate chieftains, NGOs and of course HE ambassadors who were invited and came (hehe) etc etc etc...
In his forward, YBM Tengku Tan Sri Dato'Seri Ahmad Rithauddeen, former foreign minister of Malaysia described YAB Tun Dr Ismail as an astute diplomat and the formulator of foreign affairs who charted the nation's course in international relations in the early years of its independence. That he was amazed by Dr Ismail's ability to transform himself very confidently into a successful diplomat at the United Nations when he was there as our first Permanent Representative despite never being trained as a diplomat, and that he was a politician and a medical doctor by training.
I like to quote Dr Ismail's inaugural speech during the general debate at the 12th Session of the United Nation's General Assembly (678th Plenary Meeting), Tuesday, 17th September, 1957, at 3 PM, (President: Sir Leslie Munro, New Zealand) on Agenda Item 25 - Admission of New Members to the United Nations: Admission of the Federation of Malaya to Membership in the United Nations.
80. 'Although our material wealth and our standard of living compare very favourably with those of many nations in the world today, as a small nation, our basic strengths lies not in these material things, but in the moral character and purposes of our people. We have in Malaya three major racial groups: the Malays, the Chinese and the Indians, who have lived together for generations in peace and harmony, Neither the difference in religion and cultural background, nor the difference in their economic and social status, has created an insuperable barrier towards the national unity of these races. Our great desire is to have the right and the good fortune to live as a free, independent and united nation among free nations of the world. The achievement of this desire, through peaceful and constitutional means, through friendly negotiation and a spirit of compromise, is the result of the abiding moral strength inherent in each of the three racial communities living in Malaya today.' (Appendix 1 pages 103-105)

That was in 1957 and I was three years old...and as I read it again, and again, to my mind, the most important guiding light then and perhaps even more so now, is for all of us Malaysians to realise that our basic strength lies not in material things [but please don't ask me to hand over my nokia e90 and blackberry bold to you ok? (evil wink)] but in the moral character and purposes of our people. We did perhaps have just one or two 'commissions' at the time, life was much simpler, less complicated, there were no internet or facebook (hehe). And perhaps, like Obama, the first black US President, installed today, we too need to redefine and re-examine where we went wrong and how do we move forward without engaging a 'change' slogan or 'rebranding' (whatever that means..hehe) exercise (evil wink) or BOS or ROS ... hmmm. What say you, folks? and o ya...go pick a copy and read the book...

3 comments:

rosheida said...

You are too quick to cover yrself! You know that readers would ask you to sacrifice yr blackberry...
Actually the choices we face are complex and yet simple. In coping with the current environment is essentially pragmatic: we must learn to live in the unstable world of unpredictability, bordering on chaos, then rise above it to a state where we welcome, encourage and celebrate change! Can you lend me the book! I'm embracing change by not buying one. he.he.he.

Khaeruddin Sudharmin said...

hahaha....anoder obama change principle (evil wink) LOL. ok can lend u when i am done reading it....have only been tinkering with it like a mouse...seperti tikus membaiki labu lor... kunon...LOL...there are some parts i have not read completely...jeng3x

rosheida said...

ha..ha.. nih bukan obama lor. just really being pragmatic. the answer will be an individual decision to accept change or not. Now is no longer like last time where it is more predictable, rational, logical and structured way of life. Don't play2 with words like right, wrong, good or bad.