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Consider views of youth, policymakers urged

PETALING JAYA: Policymakers must take into account the views of young Malaysians in formulating policies, said the participants at a discussion on nation-building. The youth are an essential segment of society whose views must be included in forging an identity for the nation, they said in the Consensus Document issued at the end of the discussion on Tuesday. The government should engage and increase cooperation with young people, through youth movements and civil society activities, the document said. We further urge key policymakers that the views, perspectives and opinions arising from this roundtable are taken into serious consideration during the formulation of government policies and practices, it said. The Young Malaysians Roundtable Discussion on National Unity & Development in Malaysia Challenges and Prospects for Nation Building was organised by the Bar Council and Asian Strategy and Leadership Institute in Kuala Lumpur. The Consensus Document also said there was a need to stress on common and shared values regardless of race and religion, and eliminate the misuse of identification by ethnic or religious background. It added that education institutions should have programmes to improve ethnic and religious relations, and encourage critical thinking and acceptance of diversity of views. Raja Nazrin Shah, who delivered the keynote address at the talk, stressed that all Malaysians must defend and promote the integrity of the Federal Constitution in the nation-building process. He also noted that nation-building entailed accommodation and compromise by all parties and an open and forward-looking society. In a statement yesterday, Penang Wanita Gerakan lauded the points raised by Raja Nazrin. We further support his views for the need to uphold the supremacy of the Constitution, said its publicity bureau chair Geeta Suresh Chand. There is now, more than ever, a desperate need for the younger generation to start thinking along these golden lines, she said. Sisters in Islam (SIS) also welcomed the call for all Malaysians to defend and promote the Constitution. SIS programme manager Norhayati Kaprawi said in a statement yesterday that as a Muslim organisation that believed in equality and justice, it also supported his denouncement of all forms of extremism, chauvinism, rascism and isolationism. SIS fears that any attempt to undermine the supremacy of the Federal Constitution, which is the social contract agreed upon by our founding leaders and all ethnic groups, will affect the unity and harmony of Malaysian society, she said. She added that SIS wanted the government to ensure that all persons in Malaysia be accorded equality before the law and that their rights, regardless of gender, ethnicity and faith, were protected as constitutionally provided for. SIS also called on the government to fulfil its commitment to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, to protect the rights of non-converting spouses, and to require both parents consent before changing the religion of children below 18. SIS would also like to urge Muslim organisations and individuals who believe in justice, equality and human rights to show solidarity with our non-Muslim friends by speaking out against any form of injustices that may be perpetrated against them, Norhayati said.

UM to focus on promoting itself

by Husna Yusop

Chang favourite for No. 2 post in Gerakan pg 12

PETALING JAYA: Universiti Malaya (UM) has stopped taking part in the International Exhibition of Inventions in Geneva since 2004. However, its vice-chancellor Datuk Rafiah Salim said the decision was not made because it was a waste of money but rather, the university wanted its promotion activities to be focused on the region only, to get the best mileage for our money. Last year, for example, UM took part in the Seoul International Invention Fair (SIIF), an exhibition similar to the Geneva-based exhibition. The university submitted 11 research projects for the event and all won medals five gold, four silver and two bronze. Rafiah said it was indeed a waste of money if participation in such exhibitions was merely to win medals, but in UMs case, it was part of the universitys promotion exercise. Our purpose is to promote our university, our scientists and our works or inventions to the international arena. The idea is to get

the industry to know us, she said. We are relatively small and comparatively unknown to the world, unlike Harvard, Oxford or Yale. So we have to promote ourselves to let the world know we exist. Then only we can become a global player. Otherwise, we will remain as jaguh kampung (village champion), she told theSun when asked to comment on Ayer Hitam member of parliament Dr Wee Ka Siongs statement on Monday. Wee had said Malaysian universities were spending millions to participate in such profit-making exhibitions only to collect awards whose academic merits were questionable. The same issue had been raised by Tony Pua, the economic adviser to DAP secretary-general, in his blog Education in Malaysia since 2005. Rafiah said it was not a problem as long as the universities were fully aware of the actual objective of their participation for promotion. The award is secondary. If they want to give, we take, but we dont go there for the awards. She said all promotional efforts entailed some kind of investment.