“Unity in Diversity:The Malaysian Experience” was the theme of a peace forum engaging a group of 56 peace activists from Korea on August 11-13,2011 in Kaula Lumpur, Malaysia. Hosted at University Kebangsaan, the peace forum was jointly organized by GPF Malaysia, Malaysia’s Department of National Unity and Integration, and University Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM).
Among the distinguished panelists were Dato’ Azman Amin Bin Hassan, Director General of the Department of National Unity and Integration; Tan Sri Datin Paduka Seri Hajah Zaleha Ismail, Chairman of the Global Peace Festival (GPF) Malaysia; Prof. Ulung Datuk Dr. Shamsul Amri Baharuddin, Founding Director of Institute of Ethnic Studies UKM; and Datuk Dr. Denison Jayasooria, from the Institute of Ethnic Studies.
“You must remember that unity in diversity, does not come naturally by itself,” noted Tan Sri Datin Paduka Seri Hajah Zaleha Ismail. “You have to work for it, just like our present Prime Minister has.”
“Most importantly is for you to discover first hand with your own eyes what Malaysia is,” said Prof. Ulung Datuk Dr. Shamsul Amri Baharuddin. “You come here and see one Malaysia, but when you switch on the television you’ll see another, different Malaysia. You will have to make the judgment.”
“We believe Malaysia is a microcosm of the world and you have good policies and morality. There is much we can learn from Malaysia to make the world a better place,” said Mr Moo Il Hwang, a Korean delegate.
Among the esteemed delegates were Korean Ambassadors for Peace, academicians, a former cabinet minister, and district counselors who were attracted by the uniqueness of Malaysia.
Besides the forum, the Korean delegation visited a community at Kampung Tambak Paya, Melaka. They were warmly received by children in colorful traditional costume, and by a kompang(traditional percussion) ensemble.
The villagers and local leaders prepared several activities and programs for the delegates, despite fasting during the month of Ramadan. The villagers demonstrated the methods of making dodol, lemang and bubur lambuk, (Malaysian traditional cuisine), as well as techniques for weaving the ketupat and tapping a rubber tree.
Despite the language barrier, the delegates and their hosts enjoyed communicating with signs and gestures while trying out new things and sampling local food in the village. Delegates also spent several hours with their host families to learn more about Malaysian ways of life and customs before breaking fast together.
A friendship signing ceremony between the community of Kampung Tambak Paya and the Korean delegation was carried out signifying the growing friendship between two nations. The Korean delegation was later invited for a High-Tea Meeting with the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affair, Hon. Senator A. Kohilan Pillay.
“We chose to come to Malaysia due to its multi-cultural and multi-racial profile,” said Mr. David Yoo Kyung Eui, the President of Global Peace Festival Foundation Korea. “There are many best practices here worth learning which can inspire our social development efforts.”
—Reported by GPF Malaysia