5th Merdeka Award Roundtable Focuses On Taking Malaysian Values To The World

16 AUGUST 2013
Malaysia, with its multi-ethnic, multi-racial, multi-religious and multicultural dynamics, can play a significant role on the global stage by promoting Malaysian values such as diversity, moderation, inclusivity and tolerance, values that help us grow, evolve and prosper as a nation.
The 5th Merdeka Award Roundtable, a television talk-show that is broadcasted in partnership with ASTRO, explored what Malaysians can offer to the international community in terms of values that are central to our lives.
The lively discussion focused on the essence of being Malaysian and what makes us Malaysian.
With the emergence of the post-Merdeka Generation, the nation’s role in shaping Malaysian values is evolving.  Among the new voices are those of the new generation of Malaysians who, by virtue of their age and access to communication technologies, are sensitive to global issues and open to competing in a global environment.
As a nation Malaysia must progress both as an enlightened society as well as a society that is driven by strong fundamental values and ethics and a sense of community. This balance is critical in sustaining our progress in the global environment.
Living in a diverse community gives Malaysians an incredible range of skills and values which can be shared with the rest of the world.
The panelists who came together for the 5th edition of the Merdeka Award Roundtable, with the topic Taking Malaysian Values to the Global Stage, said that years of living together has taught Malaysians that they have the ability to synthesise, adapt and embrace their individual value systems.  It is now up to the nation to take this to heart and to the world, they said.
The 5th Merdeka Award Roundtable was held recently at Galeri PETRONAS, KLCC, which features an exhibition titled “Convergence”. The exhibition explores the links between Malaysia’s past and present landscape, and how, through its rich and diverse heritage, Malaysians can learn about the nation’s pioneering values and apply that to today’s conditions.
The three Roundtable panelists – author, social commentator & corporate trainer Anas Zubedy, celebrated Malaysian cartoonist Datuk Mohd Nor Bin Khalid (better known as LAT) as well as Datin Paduka Mother A Mangalam A/P S Iyaswamy Iyer, President of The Pure Life Society and Recipient of the 2010 Merdeka Award – concurred that living in a diverse community has given Malaysians skills and values applicable and useful in their careers, interpersonal skills and relations with other communities. 
They noted that these values are still inherent and anchored amongst Malaysians of today, and were fundamentally not in danger of being eroded.  What is needed, however, is to adjust and adapt the strong values already inherent in Malaysians to make it resonate more with the global community.
Commenting on this, Anas said: “We are a nation still in transition; a work in progress, our hearts are still traditional.”
Speaking about Malaysian values, LAT said: “Small community living in the kampung promotes family life. In the village, everyone knows each other.  There is that thing about responsibility and good behaviour that we had to have, simply because everyone knows each other.”
He drew parallels with modern living, saying: “Today, we can see this happening in the neighbourhood. If we can just get people to know people living in the same area, there is already good behaviour.”
The roundtable discussion moved on to the importance of tolerance, acceptance and compromise, with panelists saying that we should continue to hold on strongly to these values today.
“In the past, we understood the concept of “everybody must get something, nobody will get everything”.  And those were values that were implanted in our hearts at Merdeka.  These are values that are important (today),” said Anas, adding that today’s generation is more focused on self-interest rather than the community.  This could be addressed with increased socialisation, the panelists said.
“It’s very important to have early socialisation.  Malaysian children must have a chance from an early age to play with each other – that’s the missing element. How do we create more opportunities to play together, to laugh together, to cry together?” said Anas.
Speaking of the past, LAT said, “At that time, we didn’t think about races. We thought about the music we were listening to, the movies we were going to watch, the soccer game we were going to attend.  And so there was a lot of unity.  No one told you to do it, it just happened.”
The discussion also covered the impact of social media and how it gives the young a space to voice their thoughts and views, giving them the sense of being empowered.  As host Bettina Khan said: “Now an entire world can listen to them.”
The panel then discussed the impact of these issues on national unity and solidarity, and the need for inclusivity.
Mother Mangalam explained: “The main thing here is we must try to develop a heart-to-heart understanding and appreciation of each other’s feelings, cultures or racial differences.  Not only tolerate (each other) but also try to appreciate and understand each other.  This is something we must try and practice while getting to know each other.”
Also fundamental to Malaysian values is education and the role of the Rukunegara, the panelists said.
The Rukunegara is the national ideology that is aimed at fostering harmony and unity among the various groups in the country.

The Merdeka Award was established by PETRONAS, ExxonMobil and Shell, on 27 August 2007. It aims to recognise and reward Malaysians and non-Malaysians who have made outstanding contributions to the people of Malaysia in their respective fields. 
The Merdeka Award Roundtables is a series of made-for-TV specials that bring together leading figures from Malaysia's corporate, academic and social spheres to discuss issues that are critical to the future of Malaysia, in-line with the Merdeka Award’s philosophy of encouraging a worldview and fostering a culture of excellence.
The 5th Merdeka Award Roundtable was held at Galeri PETRONAS, a venue that showcases the best of Malaysian talents in the visual arts.
The Roundtable will premiere on Saturday August 17 2013 at 8.30 pm on ASTRO Awani (Channel 501).  Repeats will be carried on:
  • Sunday, August 18, 5.30 pm;
  • Monday, August 19, 3.30 pm;
  • Wednesday, August 21, 11.30 am;
  • Sunday, August 25 at 9.30 pm.


Dr Edison Lee Tian Khoon
Dr Edison headed to Sweden’s Uppsala University, where he joined the Department of Chemistry, Ångström Laboratory, as part of his attachment stint. He is currently carrying out active research in polymer electrolyte and nanomaterials for Lithium-ion batteries. Read more about him here:
Innovating the Energy Ecosystem
Chrishen R. Gomez
Having attended the prestigious Ivy League Brown University as part of his attachment programme, 27-year-old Chrishen is now with the Wildlife Research and Conservation Unit at Oxford University. Chrishen is busy developing a genetic-based research project on the Sunda Clouded Leopard. Read more about him here: Conserving Our Forests & Future
Dr Zetty
Dr Zetty is currently working on anti-cancer compounds found in Malaysian seaweed and has continued to pursue her original project proposal of microalgae vaccine carriers for fish. A working solution has been patented by Dr Zetty and will be deployed within the coming year.
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