WHAT does Malaysia Day mean to Malaysians? For many it’s the fact that we have a multicultural, multilingual, multiracial society that lives together as one big family. Despite our differences, we collectively hold many distinctive qualities and values that make us truly Malaysians, for which we are proud of.
Having experienced the Covid-19 pandemic, to transitioning into an endemic phase together, has brought Malaysians closer than ever. Amidst adversity, it is clear that Malaysians are willing to rally together and help each other out. Unity was, and is key, to getting back on our feet.
Khazanah Nasional Berhad encapsulates this wonderful spirit in a special video that showcases hope, selflessness, optimism and humanity – traits that ultimately unite us all and highlight how everyday Malaysians are advancing Malaysia in their own ways.
A key desired outcome through Khazanah’s Advancing Malaysia strategy, after all, is to impart greater societal value to all Malaysians. In line with this, a small internal movement called Berbudi Bersama began within Khazanah to inspire everyone to own and embrace “doing good” together in times of need.
In 2022, several activities have been planned and executed to further weave the Berbudi Bersama theme in Khazanah’s community outreach and engagements. These efforts naturally complement causes championed by its foundation, Yayasan Hasanah, as well as its related entities such as Taman Tugu Malaysia, Yayasan Khazanah, Think City and Khazanah Research Institute.
One such effort is through a special feature video for National and Malaysia Day, titled Negara Ku, Negara Kita that highlights the stories of four young Malaysians – Lam Shen Fei, Awaludin Jalalus Shuti, Dipti Kumar and Shereen Ajani, the common bond between them and their desire to give back to society and build stronger communities around them. This desire rings true for Khazanah too, and its capacity building efforts, which ultimately lead to better, stronger and more vibrant communities.
In celebration of Malaysia Day, the hope is to bring everyone together as we celebrate Malaysia’s multicultural society, it’s diversity and inclusivity.
Giving back to society
Ipoh-born Lam Shen Fei, 34, a qualified architect, is deeply committed to working with communities. The Khazanah Design Residency recipient uses his expertise to help the B40 community and migrants, via multiple initiatives.
“The Residency programme was a prestigious opportunity for me to learn and share,” says Lam.
“We were able to gain exposure on an international platform. It’s good to know that Khazanah not only acts as an investment arm, but also invests in building future talents.”
Lam received a JPA subsidy and school scholarship and graduated from the Architectural Association School of Architecture, London. In the hope of giving back to the nation, the principal architect for FEI Architect plt has been lecturing at UPM, and previously at Taylor’s University and UTAR since 2014.
During the movement control restrictions, Lam helped in the distribution of food boxes to the needy – gathering funds from generous donors, and working closely with local representatives to identify communities impacted by the pandemic at Wawasan Flat, Sri Begonia, and Puchong Perdana, in Selangor.
He also supported the renovation for the community centre at Projek Perumahan Rakyat (PPR) Lembah Subang 2, in collaboration with the Housing and Local Government Ministry and Yayasan Sukarelawan Siswa and Redha Youth to provide a multipurpose venue for the residents.
Lam loves Malaysia because “it’s the country where my family and I have grown, are growing and will grow up in. A rojak country flavoured with so many cultures, food, lifestyles, and opinions. Most tasty indeed!”
What was it like making the Negara Ku, Negara Kita video?
“It was great getting to know fellow community advocates. Yes, we were chosen for the video shoot, but what we each do represents the collective work of many more Malaysians.”
Working with youths
Awaludin Jalalus Shuti, 30, founder of social enterprise Chow Kit Youth, was born and raised in Chow Kit in KL. Awal may have ended up a victim of his circumstances had it not been for non-profit organisation Yayasan Chow Kit’s intervention, for which he is ever grateful.
Educated at Politeknik Premier Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah, Shah Alam, Awal currently works as a marketing executive for a well-known bookstore. Outside of work, he helps youth in and around Chow Kit achieve their maximum potential, while giving them courage to pursue their dreams through a number of outreach programmes such as theatre and performance classes, including business and start-up basics.
“We carry out activities that contribute to the surrounding community regardless of race, ethnicity or religion,” says Awal.
“This is the essence of Chow Kit Youth. Our activities receive volunteer support and donations from many people, enabling us to level up and advance together.”
When he was 19, he noticed a gap in society for those aged between 18 and 30.
“These young people are exposed to various social activities that could affect them negatively and lead them into a world of crime; this is especially so for those of us living in the Chow Kit area – when we turn 18, it is like we are given a free pass to try out anything!” reveals Awal.
While there are many organisations that provide welfare assistance for children, those 18 and above are usually left to fend for themselves.
“These are the formative years of youths who will one day, shape the nation. So, I decided to create an organisation for these young people to inspire them to participate in positive activities that would benefit the community.”
Ultimately, Awal shares, Chow Kit Youth’s “big vision” is to see the suburb transform into an arts district, where citizens can express themselves through art and creativity. “It could open up great opportunities to raise the economy of Chow Kit.”
To Awal, Malaysia Day is a day for celebration because “today, we see Malaysians rising up to help the needy without thinking about their ethnic backgrounds and this is what makes our country so special.”
Push for education equity
Dipti Kumar, 31, is a sustainability and change advocate involved in issues pertaining to education equity. She’s also a Yayasan Khazanah (YK) scholar alumnus who read law at King’s College London (LLB and LLM).
“The journey as a YK scholar was a formative and transformative experience,” Dipti says.
“You truly feel valued and supported. Throughout the experience, the initiatives and opportunities provided were very helpful and effective in supporting our growth as individuals and professionals.”
Born and raised in KL, Dipti says that she has observed how the circumstances of one’s birth play a huge factor in determining access to quality education in Malaysia.
“I’ve always been passionate about education equity and closing the talent gap,” she says.
“I hope that my work continues to create impact and improve lives of younger Malaysians, the ways our parents did for us.”
Dipti is currently lead consultant at local outfit Scolaro, where she designs and executes enrichment and upskilling interventions for young Malaysians, especially in soft skills. Prior to this, she was the CEO of the Malaysian Collective Impact Initiative (MCII), an organisation that promotes synergies across multiple stakeholders, aimed at improving the literacy rate in Malaysia.
As we experience the Fourth Industrial Revolution, Dipti feels it is key that Malaysia stays ahead of the global scene to remain competitive and ensure Malaysians experience healthy lives and economies.
“The work I do through Scolaro, and previously with MCII, specifically contributes to the improvement of access to education and upskilling for young Malaysians – ensuring they can sharpen their tools and be their best selves at work and at home. This would mean a healthier labour force, that would directly drive the advancement of our country.”
While she works and spends time abroad, Dipti says that Malaysia will always be home.
“It is a place where I belong, and my family roots remain, and I will continue to sow seeds of growth here. Having travelled to different countries, I can appreciate every country for its respective cultures and values. However, nothing comes close to home.”
Creating opportunities for Orang Asli
Shereen Ajani, 29, is an Orang Asli from the Temuan tribe based in Kampung Orang Asli Bukit Lanjan, Damansara, Selangor. A law student from Universiti Malaya, Shereen is actively involved in her community, raising awareness about the plight of indigenous people in Peninsular Malaysia.
Her focus today is to make education more accessible to Orang Asli children and youth through the association known as Projek Mahasiswa Orang Asli (PMOA), which was recently upgraded to Persatuan Mahasiswa Orang Asli Malaysia. PMOA comprises over 150 Orang Asli undergraduates and postgraduates from local and overseas universities, who are passionate in giving back to their community.
For Shereen, education is the best tool to help the Orang Asli achieve a better life while preserving their traditions and customs.
“My ultimate goal of creating PMOA was to help Orang Asli graduates and undergraduates with internships, scholarships and employment opportunities, related to their field of study,” she shares.
“The world is moving so quickly, and so it is very important for Orang Asli to build their skills, connections and networks at an early age.”
Shereen regularly attends events as a spokesperson for the Orang Asli community. She was also selected to intern at the New Zealand High Commission, under the High Commission’s engagement programme with Malaysian indigenous people. Apart from the internship, she was invited to meet with New Zealand Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta to discuss an indigenous education-based collaboration between the New Zealand High Commission in Malaysia and PMOA.
“When I had the privilege to do my Te Aka Internship at the New Zealand High Commision last year, I was amazed at how much work New Zealand has done to empower their Maori community,” she shares, hoping to one day be able to emulate what she has learnt in Malaysia.
Shereen says she was pleasantly surprised to be chosen to be part of Khazanah’s special feature video.
“It’s great to be able to represent my family, my Orang Asli community, my Persatuan Mahasiswa Orang Asli, my beloved Universiti Malaya – all of which have played a big part in my life. If I had not pursued my studies at the Faculty of Law at UM which was funded by Jabatan Kemajuan Orang Asli, I wouldn’t have been able to get the education, confidence and networks that I needed to establish PMOA.”
She is “beyond grateful” to be a part of Khazanah’s Negara Ku, Negara Kita campaign.
“To know that the sovereign wealth fund of Malaysia acknowledges indigenous people and minority communities in such campaigns, reflects its dedication in doing its part to make Malaysia a better nation, and not leave anyone behind.”
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