25 August 2008

Proud to be Malaysian

Dr Lee Su Kim spoke on championing our Malaysianness in a pre-Merdeka talk entitled “Celebrating being Malaysian: A Peranakan Woman Writer’s Perspective” at Sunway University College.

Speaking to Morals and Malaysian Studies students who packed the auditorium, Dr Lee gave amusing examples of how English has developed into its own with phrases and words which would sound completely strange to native English speakers. Words like ‘cousin brother, ‘send you’, ‘gostan’, ‘heaty’ and ‘cooling’. Awkward though they may be, these examples show how our spoken English has evolved into a Malaysian type of English popularly known as “Manglish”.

It was during her four years in Texas pursuing her doctorate that Dr Lee came to write her latest book, ‘A Nyonya in Texas: Insights of a Straits Chinese Woman in the Lone Star State’, which is a hilarious narrative of cross-cultural encounters. “It is only when you leave this country that you find out that you are Malaysian” shared Dr Lee.

Dr Lee’s parents are both Peranakan but from different states. She enjoys the Melaka Peranakan influence from her paternal side and the Penang Peranakan heritage from her maternal side. Pointing out how Peranakan culture is unique in the world and is a beautiful synthesis of two cultures, Chinese and Malay, Dr Lee explained that the culture was at its height of glory during British colonial rule, from the mid-19th to the 20th century. After Malaysia obtained its Independence in 1957, the Peranakan found themselves caught in an identity crisis as their culture is a culture of hybridity, and they claimed Chinese identity. Since World War II, the Peranakan culture has gradually become diluted and lost its lustre. However, the Peranakan culture today is undergoing a great revival and has attracted a lot of interest worldwide, particularly in its material culture.

As a teenager, Dr Lee was not sure of “who” she was but now she has come to accept her Peranakan ancestry with great pride and confidence. She encouraged everyone to celebrate the multiracial harmony that has taken root deeply in Malaysia. “Malaysia is a wonderful meeting place of cultures. This idea of multiple identities helps us to be more open-minded and less ethnocentric. We are who we are, Malaysians and we should appreciate our commonalities, enjoy being multi-cultural, speak out for our rights and dare to be different” said Dr Lee.

About Dr Lee Su Kim
Dr. Lee Su Kim was a guest speaker invited by the Language and Compulsory Subject Centre, Sunway University College. Lee is the author of ‘Malaysian Flavours: Insights into Things Malaysian’, ‘Manglish: Malaysian English at its Wackiest’ and ‘A Nyonya in Texas’. She is an Associate Professor in English at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Bangi. Dr. Lee has a Doctorate in Education from the University of Houston and her research interests are in the area of Language, Culture and Identity and World Englishes.

She is also the President of the newly-formed Peranakan Association of Kuala Lumpur and Selangor.

An Explosion of Culture at the International Student Carnival

“One Global Village” was the theme of this year’s International Student Carnival, hosted by Sunway University College and co-organised together with the Ministry of Higher Education. The 2-day event held recently was a combined effort of 36 public and private institutions of higher learning and saw 2,500 international students participating in an Inter-Varsity Sports Carnival, a Student Forum and a Cultural Night.

Some 100 international students created a kaleidoscope of colour at the Cultural Night. Sunway University College students dazzled with an Indian folk dance originating from Rajesthan and an enchanting Chinese umbrella dance. Other institutions showcased Bollywood, Saman, Kuda Kepang, Mamri and Jaipongan dances. The Guest-of-Honour was Yang Berhormat Dr Hou Kok Chung, Deputy Minister of Higher Education who was welcomed by the Chancellor of Sunway University College, Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Dr. Jeffrey Cheah. Vice-Chancellors and Executive Directors from higher institutions around the country, Ambassadors and High Commissioners were also present.

The sports carnival saw students competing in futsal, basketball, captain’s ball and tug-of-war. The forum provided a platform for international students to share their views and explored what could be done to cater to the needs of the international student community in Malaysia. Five international students spoke on issues such as cross-cultural communication, stress, expectations and adjusting to a new cultural environment.

The Ministry of Higher Education is committed to helping international students have a positive, pleasant and enriching experience here. Elizabeth Lee, Executive Director of Sunway University College said “The activities of the Carnival are intended to facilitate goodwill, cross-cultural understanding and unity among the international students which we hope will continue long after the carnival is over”.

22 August 2008

Men in Blue for Sunway University College

The security operations of Bandar Sunway were given a boost when 83 Sunway Group security guards underwent two months of rigorous formal training earlier this year with the Malaysian Police Training Force. The men were accorded Auxiliary Police (AP) status by the Inspector General of Police (IGP) upon completion of the training and have been attached with the subsidiary companies of the Sunway Group. Three of them are at Sunway University College.

Elizabeth Lee, Executive Director of Sunway University College said “The presence of the AP’s would help as a deterrent towards crime within the campus and provide peace-of-mind assurance for the 8,200 students, of which 30% of them are international students”

The adoption of AP’s is a part of the Sunway Group’s Safe City Initiative, amplifying the Royal Malaysian Police security efforts in the whole of Bandar Sunway in creating a safer environment for residents, employees and students.

“Since the deployment of APs in Bandar Sunway, the crime rate has significantly declined by 30% in June and July this year” said Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Dr Jeffrey Cheah, the Founder and Chairman of the Sunway Group during the recent presentation of two Toyota Hiace mobile police stations by the Sunway Group to the Royal Malaysian Police Force who serve the Bandar Sunway community.

The formal training for the men included attending law classes and security drills. AP’s are given the same power of police constables one of which is the right to arrest in their area of jurisdiction and the right to investigate crimes, subject to the prior approval of the IGP.

17 August 2008

Book vendors provide a kitty for community scholars

Everyone knows there is a veritable feast of scholarships out there. Not only designed to curb a brain drain, scholarships provide a better life. Sunway University College offers a boost in this direction to the financially strapped, through the yearly Tun Dato’ Seri Omar Ong Yoke Lin Community Scholarship.

The criteria candidates have to meet are that they must come from a charitable residential children’s home, poor community or single parents and the family income must be less than RM1,800 per month. The scholarship provides full tuition fee, all related fees and accommodation. The funds come from the Sunway Education Trust Fund, started in 1997 by Tan Sri Dato’ Seri (Dr.) Jeffrey Cheah, Founder of Sunway University College who dreamt of contributing to society through education. Sunway University College is the only private institution of higher learning that provides such a scholarship.


Sunway went ahead to set up a book allowance for the scholars recently. Ms Wong Sook Jean, Chief Librarian of the Tun Hussein Onn Library at Sunway, is an ISO-certified library, approached book supply companies for donations for the scholars. “We are very grateful to our book suppliers for their contributions which would help the community scholars in a meaningful way”.

The book supply companies contribute a total of RM5,000 per annum for three years, 2008-2010. The companies are EMO Book Services Sdn Bhd (RM1,000 per annum), Koperasi Kedaibuku Universiti Malaya Ltd (RM1,000 per annum), PV Knowledge Sdn Bhd (RM1,000 per annum) and Universiti Book Store Sdn Bhd (RM2,000 per annum). They came for a presentation ceremony at Sunway University College which was held recently. A total of 21 community scholars benefit from this donation and they will be able to request for books through the library. The books can be from prescribed book lists or any books that the students require.

Emmanuel Yong, a community scholar who lives with his mother, and who has already requested 6 books said “The book allowance makes things very convenient for us. I am grateful to Sunway and the book supply companies for their support”

To date, 35 students have been offered the community scholarships since January 2002. Out of these, 11 students were from charitable homes such as Rumah Care, Rumah Faith, Rumah Keluarga Kami, Rumah Ozanam and Shepherd’s Centre. 7 students have since graduated 3 with a bachelor’s degree, 3 with a diploma and 1 with a certificate.