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Malaysia-Japan – Achieving Peace in Multi-Cultural Societies

Organization(s)

Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)The Government of Malaysia (Malaysia Technical Cooperation Programme) International Institute of Public Policy and Management (INPUMA), University of Malaya

Country (ies)

Malaysia

Overview

Malaysia as a multicultural and religious nation with successful economic and social development can provide other developing countries with unique opportunity to learn how the Government of Malaysia has been managing its complex cultural and religious nation with different ethnicities as a nation. A total of twenty-four (24) government officials from Afghanistan, Iraq and Sudan are invited to the programe. The 2009 course was the fifth year of the six year cooperation with MTCP and JICA. In the past we had also invited participants from Sri Lanka, East Timor and Bosnia-Herzegovina based on their current situation and needs.

Background

Conflict, both within and between countries, has generated adverse physical, economic and social effects. Today, civil and regional wars continue to plague many parts of the world. Much effort was made during the Cold War period to define peace and security in terms of protecting national sovereignty, with the emphasis being on building and maintaining military capability. Such a narrow conceptualisation has not been helpful in ensuring national security as demonstrated by the events of September 11.

Today, most scholars of international affairs embrace the concept of comprehensive security, which encompasses political, economic, social and educational, legal, and military aspects. Imbalances or inequalities in any of these areas or combinations of them could lead to conflict. For example, economic deprivation may lead to social problems and conflict. However, economic deprivation may result from political decisions. It follows that the process of peace consolidation for post-conflict countries should give consideration to an integrated approach encompassing all the six areas mentioned above in order to attain peace and stability. Governments should, either individually or in collaboration with private organisations and third sector organisations (NGOs) formulate and implement policies relating to these six areas, to manage conflict and/or rebuild their countries in the post-conflict era.

While Malaysia has not experienced serious civil or regional wars, as a multi-ethnic society, it offers successful development experiences to countries experiencing conflict or rebuilding their communities after conflict. This is because many of Malaysia's policies and accompanying programmes have contributed to enduring peace and stability. Japan has vast experience in post-conflict reconstruction and this experience can provide guidelines to countries wishing to learn from the Japanese experience. Today, Japan is economically and socially one of the most stable countries in the world. Thus, together Japan and Malaysia can offer insight and knowledge, which promote peace and stability.

Implementation

The training programme was held from 24 May – 6 June 2009. The programme provided the participants with lectures and discussions on multiculturalism, multicultural education, multicultural constitution building, participatory politics in a Multicultural polity with the cases of Malaysia. They were also, for the first time, introduced to Peace and Conflict Resolution workshop with conflict mapping and management in the cases of conflicts in South East Asian Region. They also learnt about consolidation of peace and economic development in Japan and its efforts to assist in peace building in multicultural nations.

The main objectives of the training are

1) To enhance the multicultural understanding of public officials via lessons from the experiences of other plural societies, namely Malaysia;
2) To impart relevant knowledge and skills, particularly in areas of human security and peace-building in a multicultural environment;
3) To instil the principles of constitutionalism, institution building and good governance in multicultural and/or emerging nations of Asia and Africa, and
4) To develop greater understanding and closer relations among Malaysia, Japan and participating countries of Asia and Africa

Vast range of topics in the area of Peace Consolidation in Multicultural Nations are delivered and discussed during this course. The following are 3 topics are particularly highlighted during the programme, namely

1) Human Security and National Integration, which is elaborated by Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, the former Prime Minister of Malaysia,
2) Consolidation of Peace : The Japanese Experience by JICA Senior Advisor on peace building, and
3) Peace Building Workshop, which is facilitated by Research Education Centre for Peacce, University of Sains Malaysia,which is actively promoting peace in Mindanao, Southern Thailand and Ache.

Apart from the indoor sessions (lectures, open discussions, group discussions andpresentations), the programme also included study visits to: "The Streets of Harmony", Penang to show the high level of tolerance and spirit of cooperation that existed in the street of harmony within multicultural and ethnic society where participants learnt the fact visibly that different places of worships could co-exist in the same street. The participants were also taken to the Teo Chiew Clan House for a talk on the culture of peace by the Malaysian Interfaith Network. The participants also visited Department of Unity and National Integration, where they were briefed on the role of the department in ensuring national integration and unity in Malaysia The objective of the study visits was to enhance the participants' understanding in the areas of education and national unity. Much was expected to be learned by those visits as they allowed room for discussion and exchanging of views and experiences. The participants were further exposed to the roles of Malaysia's government and their effort in improving the education sector as well as promoting national unity.

Outcomes

One of the most important outcomes was the formulation of Action Plans which were presented based on specific questions given to them pertaining to certain issues in their countries. Participants from each country were invited from different regional, religious , cultural backgrounds, and they designed and formulated a conflict resolution policy/plan that might be implemented by their relevant organizations. Despite different background of each participants, they managed to work as a team to discuss in a constructive manners utilizing skills and techniques they learnt through the workshop. Conducting such exercises by participants from these countries in Malaysia was a unique experience for them as they learnt and saw how Malaysia has managed to maintain peace in a multicultural society.

Aid Effectiveness

This training programme has provided the participants with a unique opportunity to gain and learn policies and strategies, practically, which helped Malaysia maintain peace and realize socio-economic development. Learning peace consolidation in a country which can provide insights based on its own history and lessons learnt is not replicable or can not be organized in the same way in other countries. Dialogue with the former Prime Minster of Malaysia, who is well respected for his success career to bring and maintain peace and improved the welfare of Malaysian people significantly regardless of background of religion and cultures provided the participants to enhance their wills for commitment towards sustainable peace to be brought in their countries.

Capacity Development

Participants improved their knowledge and skills on peace building and conflict resolution techniques practically. Open discussions and workshops also enhanced their capacity as a team with action plan to be implemented back in their respective countries.

Duration

2 weeks every year from 2005 to 2010.

Budget (Optional)

Cost of conducting the course is shared by the Malaysian Technical Cooperation Programme (MTCP) and JICA on 50%-50% basis.

Name of Primary Contact Person

Dr. Khadijah Khalid

Title of Primary Contact Person

Executive Director, International Institute of Public Policy and Management (INPUMA)

City

Kuala Lumpur