Friday, October 29, 2010

Day of Divine Diversity


Today I just want to share a bit of writings from Botany MP , Hon Pansy Wong. (Also the current Minister of Ethnic Affairs of New Zealand) . Although her story this time does not involve the Muslim communities in New Zealand, believe it or not she was kind enough to drive for 1 and half hour to Hunua Falls for a Muslim Summer Camp organized by Youth Muslim Women of Auckland (YMWA) December last year. Her speech back then motivated me a lot to try to appreciate my difference and put it to an advantage of my own terms. 

Botany Pansy Speak

29 October 2010

Day of Divine Diversity

Last week I joined the Prime Minister on a three stop tour of some churches and temples frequented by the residents of our patch. I thought the visits were a fantastic demonstration of the diversity we are fortunate enough to enjoy here in Botany.

First we visited Reverend Andrew Brown and his congregation at the Pakuranga Baptist Church. The worshipers were obviously excited to have the Prime Minister there and gave us a very warm welcome. The church already had a Christmas feel about it as there was a giant pile of presents stacked in the foyer ready to be shipped overseas for those less fortunate.

Our next stop was just across the car park at the Baptist Chinese Church where the Reverend Albert Tang was just about to start the morning's service. Again we were given an enthusiastic welcome by the close-knit congregation. I thoroughly enjoyed the performance by the well rehearsed choir who very much looked the part of a church choir in their uniformed robes.

The third stop on our tour was just down the motorway at the Manuwera Sikh Temple. Upon our arrival we were given a tour of the Nanaksar Education Phulwari - the Childcare Centre adjacent to the Temple. While there we had an opportunity to meet with the excited children and enjoy some traditional Indian food. We were also welcomed to speak to the congregation in the temple itself. It was an impressive sight from the podium looking out over the many hundreds of attendees - the men on the right and the women on the left creating a brightly coloured sea of traditional clothing.

Below is a photo of the Prime Minister and I at story time in the Childcare Centre.
The whole day highlighted for me why New Zealand has twice been named the most peaceful nation in the world. A large part of this accomplishment can be attributed to the leaders of the various faiths in New Zealand as well as the community's respectful and inclusive nature towards a multi-faith and multi-ethnic society.

More information on Pansy Wong available here

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Model ASEAN Regional Forum

Date: Saturday, 2 October 2010.
Time: 9.00am – 5.00pm
Venue: Case Room 2, OGGB (Owen G. Glenn Building), University of Auckland

The ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) is a deliberative body facilitated by the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) to conduct multilateral dialogue on issues critical to the region. There are 27 participant nations in the Regional Forum, including the 10 ASEAN members, as well as States from around the Asia Pacific region, and beyond.

The Model ASEAN Regional Forum was attended by tertiary level students from various degree and background, pretending like we were the minister from the respective ASEAN countries. The event was held on 2nd August 2010 at Auckland University hosted by Auckland United Nations Youth Association of New Zealand (UNYANZ). It was my first event with the Auckland UNYANZ. Under Wellington UNYANZ previously I have supervised two Model UN debates in 2008 as a conference assistant and organized the Central North Island Model UN (CNIMUN) earlier this year as the Logistic Coordinator.

In Model ARF, I represented Thailand. I did apply Malaysia as my first choice of country but someone else got the place before me. Nonetheless, becoming a minister of Thailand was indeed very valuable experience to me as well. I had to debate the issue raised with respect to the foreign policy and the condition of Thailand. I also had the opportunity to make alliance with other countries other than mine, by considering the political interest that Thailand have with them, including Malaysia. Having said that, I had the opportunity to try to look at Malaysia from different perspectives.

The issue discussed was about the development of human rights in the ASEAN region following the establishment of ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights(AICHR). We debated over the steps required to fully utilize the commission for the promotion and protection of human rights. Considering that ASEAN cultures, ethnicities, and religions are very diverse human rights has to be handled in a very careful manner. The principles set out in the Charter of ASEAN had always been our guideline for peaceful and effective negotiation, including the respect for the principles of territorial integritysovereignty, non-interference and national identities of ASEAN members. At the end of the debate, the resolution passed and that marked the collective victory for all delegates present.

My personal contribution to this debate included making public speech, raised questions and also cooperation with my partner who also represented Thailand with me. It was my first experience debating for Model UN / ASEAN debate hence having someone to discuss with was a good opportunity for me to develop better understanding of the forum systems and the issue itself. Also, the experience of making alliance between countries was really meaningful because in the end, it was not just about the alliance between participating countries but I myself met new friends as well. The Model ARF overall has become a great opportunity for me to develop my language as well as social skills.

This is actually an official report I sent to MSD