UKM And CIMB Foundation Foster ASEAN Youths In Heritage Protection

UKM Dan Yayasan CIMB Pupuk Semangat Remaja ASEAN Lindungi WarisanBy Saiful Bahri Kamaruddin
Pix Ikhwan Hashim

BANGI, 21 April 2015 – Fifty  students from leading ASEAN universities became envoys for their respective countries by taking part in the three-day CIMB ASEAN Young Leaders (CYAL)  Programme 2015 to learn and play a role in protecting and preserving ASEAN’s rich heritage.

The CYAL was hosted by the National University of Malaysia (UKM), in collaboration with CIMB, Air Asia, the Institute of Diplomacy and Foreign Relations (IDFR) and Wismaputra from April 21st to 23rd.

With the theme ‘Protecting ASEAN’s Heritage’, the workshop aimed to train exceptional ASEAN student leaders who are passionate about heritage conservation to develop innovative, community-based projects. The best developed proposal will be eligible for seed funding from CIMB Foundation.

At a gathering in Kuala Lumpur today, UKM Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Industry and Community Partnership), Prof Dr Imran Ho Abdullah – in his welcoming remarks – said the university had always supported programmes that brought together promising youths from the region to better understand the neighboring communities, such as the ASEAN Youth Volunteer Programme (AYVP).

“All our students from various fields of studies are familiar with the implementation of the community service programmes or OPKIM”, he explained.

He pointed out that UKM has in fact been in the forefront in efforts to bring research to society as well as programmes with community involvement considering that society is a living laboratory to the university.

CIMB Foundation chief executive officer (CEO) Raja Noorma Othman said this would be the first time this year that the delegates would be participating in a seminar themed ‘Protecting ASEAN Heritage’ which is in line with the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC) blueprint.

“This third series aims to expose the delegates to heritage conservation and provide them with a chance to immerse in and to re-discover ASEAN’s history through site visits,” she said in her speech welcoming the delegates.

Raja Noorma said that the seminar was a platform which provided delegates with opportunities to learn through cross-cultural experiences and to network and cultivate friendship.

Raja Noorma said that in the last two programmes, CIMB Foundation sponsored a total of 100 talented undergraduates from across ASEAN to step into the shoes of ASEAN policy-makers and debate issues that were in line with the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) blueprint.

The 2012 and 2014 Young ASEAN Leaders series were held in Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur respectively, focusing on the the AEC blueprint.

“ASEAN as we know is a melting pot of diverse culture and rich history, it is home to numerous sites of historical significance that needs to be better appreciated, conserved and enriched. This is our shared responsibility,” she added.

Meanwhile, IDFR director-general Datuk Md Hussin Nayan said it was very important for IDFR to promote a meaningful youth involvement in building the ASEAN Community (AC).

He noted that the theme chosen for this programme: ‘Protecting ASEAN Heritage’ was in line with the strategic objective outlined in the ASCC blueprint for 2009-2015.

The primary goal of ASCC, one of the three pillars of the AC, to be established by year-end, is to contribute to realising a people-centred and socially responsible AC by forging a common identity and building a caring and sharing society.

The other two pillars are the AEC and the ASEAN Political-Security Community (APSC).

The event brought ASEAN heritage experts sharing and exchanging ideas. They include Francesco Volpini who is the Director of Research and Development of Better World Korea and also the Asia Coordination of the UNESCO World Heritage Volunteers initiative, Prof. Dr. Norhayati Ahmad from the Environmental Science Programme, and Prabha Sundram, manager of the University Community Transformation Centre, both from UKM.

Apart from these workshops, there was also a dialogue on the importance of ASEAN by Tunku Zain Abidin, Founding President of IDEAS, and Fellow at the CIMB-ASEAN Research Institute.

The Young ASEAN Leaders had a tour of the UNESCO World Heritage City of Melaka and explored the rich heritage sites such as the Dutch Square Malacca (Red Square), the Baba & Nyonya Heritage Museum and the Chetti community, courtesy of the Melaka World Heritage Office.

Student leaders had to submit proposals based on the project from the best practices they have learned during the three days taking part in the programme.