Inspiring Malaysians Wanted for Singaporean Series

Just received this in my comments – if you know of inspiring Malaysians of any age, please pass this on:

I’m researching for a documentary for a TV station in Singapore and I’m looking for some inspiring Malaysian (no age limit) to be featured. Such an individual must be contactable as we plan to fly in a film crew. There is no cost involved except time. The profile we’re looking for is someone who is sacrificing time and energy for a cause or for his/her community. If you have someone in mind, please reply to

Thank you!

Martin Mak

Carnival of Youth Initiative #1

Hey everyone! After some very busy weeks, I am back with the entries from the First Carnival of Youth Initiative!

Firstly, can I just request that submissions be DIRECTLY RELATED to the theme of youth and youth initiative. I received too many submissions that had nothing to do with either theme; indeed, I wonder if they were merely carnival-spamming. Not appreciated, people! But here are some good entries for the first carnival.

My friend Naoko/Pat wrote about some young Malaysian bloggers making an impact online. She also muses on what youth initiative is and how it relates to society in general.

Jeremy from Welcome To The Future compares the youth of the 60s and today, together with a funny yet thoughtprovoking comic strip. He points out:

History is quickly disappearing to the point where most of us can’t remember our grandparents.

Arun’s Daily Remedy has some tips on being social for young people. Not exactly about youth initiative, but I’ll let it slide here as the advice is tailored for youths in general.

That’s it this time. Keep updated on future Carnivals of Youth Initiative at our Blog Carnival listing, and submit!

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Want Alternative Education Books in Malaysia? Head to Borders

I am currently wandering around KL to meet friends, and I’ve been carrying my bulky laptop all day (I’m in the midst of changing accommodation). I’m actually in the top floor of Sungei Wang, loud pop music blasting from one side, and I took out my laptop just to write this:

If you’re in Malaysia and want books about alternative education or school reform, your best bet is Borders in Berjaya Times Square, Imbi.

It’s not very easy to find non-mainstream or non-trendy books in Malaysian bookstores, particularly in regional cities. Kuala Lumpur and Selangor are fortunate in that they have the bigger branches of the major bookstore chains and can afford to carry a wider selection. Still, books on alternative education and school reform are hard to find. The Education section tends to carry books on teaching, revision, or tips on succeeding in school; there aren’t many books questioning the notion of school.

However, Borders in Berjaya Times Square has an EXCELLENT selection of books on alternative education and school reform. I finally managed to snag a copy of Denise Clark Pope’s Doing School, after searching it high and low in other bookstores in Malaysia and Australia and even considering buying it from overseas. They also have books from major alternative education thinkers John Taylor Gatto, John Dewey, and John Holt – basically the “it” people of alternative education. (I’m sure them all being named John is a coincidence.) Among the other books in their in-store collection are:

  • The Overachievers by Alexandra Robbins, about students who strive to achieve as much as possible in academics and extra-curriculars (which Pope also tackles)
  • The Chosen: The Hidden History of Admission and Exclusion at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton by Jerome Karabel, about the culture of admissions standards in Ivy League universities
  • and SO MUCH MORE on teaching at-risk children, class and culture issues, school reform, unschooling, homeschooling, and so much more.

I am in a rush, and my battery is dying, so I will come back to add links and a book list to this post or a later post. I will also post a review of Doing School once I’ve read it. You can find some related books in Times, Kinokuniya, and MPH – Kinokuniya in particular has good books on career choices (including Delaying The Real World, which I reviewed here and bought from there) and activism. But for education in particular, Borders can’t be beat.

BORDERS, if you are reading this – please contact me!

links for 2007-07-10

Khazanah Global Lectures: Learn From The World’s Greatest

Fancy a lecture from a former United Nations Secretary-General, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, or the Prime Minister? How about if the lectures were free? Your chance is here!

As part of its Merdeka Series 2007, Khazanah Nasional Berhad is presenting the Khazanah Global Lectures – a series of lectures by prominent world leaders on development in international affairs, economics, society, corporations, and holistic matters. The line-up features:

12th July 2007 Kofi Annan (former UN Secretary-General)
15th August 2007 Muhammad Yunus (founder of Grameen Bank, Nobel Peace Prize winner)
29th August 2007 Joseph E Stiglitz (former Senior Vice President of the World Bank)
10th December 2007 YAB Dato Seri Abdullah Badawi (Prime Minister of Malaysia)
March 2008 Carlos Ghosn (CEO of Nissan and Renault)

All the lectures, taking place in different hotels around Kuala Lumpur, are by invitation with limited free seats for the public. To get one of the coveted public seats, register for your choice of lecture and they will let you know a few days before the lecture if you’re successful. University students, academics, and members of the public are also able to view the lectures through livecasts at participating universities, so if you miss out on a seat, get yourself to a livecast.

Khazanah Nasional Berhad will also organize two other activities: a National Development Seminar (also free to the public) and the Megatrends Forum 2007 (by invitation only). More information about those events will be released soon.

Learn about the world from those that have made the biggest differences. Register for a lecture now!

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Reviving Brick In The Wall: Join Us – Bring Alternative Education To Malaysia

If you are interested in youth and alternative education; if you feel that the Malaysian education system needs changes; if you want to make a difference; if you are resourceful, dedicated, imaginative, creative, diligent – Brick In The Wall needs you.

Brick In The Wall was a project I started in 2005 to promote alternative education in Malaysia. It was meant to be a non-profit that organized various programs and facilities to provide educational opportunities to Malaysian youth. Amongst the planned projects included (but were not limited to):

  • A resource centre, with a library, computing services, education counselling, creative spaces, meeting spaces, and lots more
  • “Support Me”, a sponsorship program whereby young people put up their projects and receive support (financial, in-kind, or personal) from others
  • An alternative education fair, with representation from various organizations and service providers
  • Workshops, skillshares, and roadshows on alternative education
  • A resource list of various organizations, service providers, and programs open to Malaysians
  • A scholarship fund for young Malaysians interested in taking up alternative educational opportunities
  • Publications about alternative education

Based on an initial project proposal, I contacted various people and set up a YahooGroup and a TakingITGlobal Project Page, and even had a preliminary meeting. Some time later I and another member spoke with the Masters in Instructional Design students at Universiti Malaya about our project. I sent out the proposal anywhere and everywhere; ASTRO sounded interested.

We had high hopes, but due to many factors, we really didn’t get anywhere. I was embarking on my Up with People tour and wouldn’t be in the country for half the year. Other members dropped out and became disinterested. We also never made the proposal practical – we didn’t have a budget, which was sorely needed, and we couldn’t work out how to convert ideas into actual project steps. When I moved to Australia, I handed over leadership to another member, and stayed on in a supervisory role. EducateDeviate, which started on New Years Day 2006 after my return from UWP, was my way of getting the word about alternative education across; it was awareness-building without requiring too many resources, and I could start it immediately.

In the past year, especially within the past couple of months, awareness about the need for change in Malaysian education has increased manifold. Government officials, including the Ministry of Education, have spoken up against the rush for As and made it clear that students need to learn from real life, not just books and school. Young people with non-mainstream talents and achievements are being recognized. More and more Malaysians are taking up alternative educational opportunities, or researching about them – for instance, there is a Malaysian travelling in one of the UWP casts this year. I just received an email from a young lady who wants to set up a service to help students apply for internships, since her experience was quite a hassle. Malaysians now realize the importance of supporting youth ventures and of the rich variety of learning experiences outside school, and they’re hungry for information and resources.

It’s time to restart Brick In The Wall.

To get Brick In The Wall up and running again, we need people. We need people with very practical abilities – budgeting, resource planning, grant writing. We need creative people who can generate lots of ideas. We need people who can convert ideas into action. We need marketers and promoters. We need people well-versed in local law, policy, and regulations. We need people with energy, drive, and determination.

We need YOU.

Join the YahooGroup, introduce yourself, and share ideas. Download the project proposal (which desperately needs a rewrite) and suggest ways to improve it. Drop me a line. Pass the word on. Get involved.

Brick In The Wall needs you. Malaysian youth and education need you. Come join us.

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Interns Wanted: Centre for Public Policy Studies

If you’re passionate about Malaysian issues, interested in public policy, and have time to spare from July 11st to August, read this announcement from the MyWordUp mailing list:

Dear all,

This is a call and plead, a desperate request to anyone who is:

1. Passionate about Malaysian issues
2. Is free to avail themselves for about a month anytime between July 11th (next week) and August
3. Interested to be involved in policy work and processes
4. Able to work efficiently and well!

Basically, I’m working at the Centre for Public Policy Studies, ASLI, and the only person working under me is a part time intern who is leaving next week. I’m all alone and trying to do too many things at the same time. Yes, CPPS is a one-woman show.

We are hiring new staff, but that will only be later, and so am stuck in a rut during this in-between period.

There are a gazillion projects at my feet at this point, and anyone in between studies or in between jobs or even willing to help in whatever ways you can would be MUCH appreciated!

Any volunteers you guys can offer me? Or you can forward this around as well. Ask them to check out our website for information on what we do as a Centre. Mail me back at or call me up at 0126122100.

Thanks everyone!!


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