PETALING JAYA: The exposure to a multi-racial community since young proved to be an asset for Malaysians working with people of other nationalities, even in a war zone area, said retired naval commander S. Thayaparan.
“As Malaysians, we can easily mingle with any race or nationality in whatever tense situation,” said Thayaparan, who returned recently from the troubled north-eastern Sri Lanka region.
He said that his multi-ethnic upbringing helped him in his liaison work with the political wing of the Liberation Tiger of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), United Nations agencies and international non-governmental organisations.
“I had to reconcile with a lot of nationalities and the Tamil Tigers. While others had difficulty in relating to the different nationalities, I had no problem interacting with the Tamil Tigers and the international community,” he told a press conference yesterday.
Thayaparan, who had served the Royal Malaysian Navy for 22 years, was with the United Nations Volunteer (UNV) group in Jaffna and other parts of Sri Lanka for 16 months.
While in Sri Lanka, he held the post of liaison and protection officer in the Klinochchi and Mullaitivu areas controlled by the LTTE.
Thayaparan was chosen by Yayasan Salam Malaysia (YSM) to serve the UNV with the UNHCR.
“Most of the agencies could not relate to the LTTE’s leaders and this had resulted in them not being able to help in the war-torn areas,” he said.
Speaking at the press conference, YSM chairman Tan Sri Razali Ismail called on more Malaysians to do volunteer work.
“YSM regards volunteerism as a meaningful way to bring about change as it helps to build strong communities by cultivating sharing, helping and caring attitudes,” he added.
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