What is the Malaysia Forum?
The Malaysia Forum (MF) is a global community that seeks to engage each other in 'civil conversation' on Malaysian issues. In other words, we encourage conversations that are respectful and unbiased, where every voice is heard, considered and responded to. It is our belief that these conversations will not only help us grow as people, but will also deepen our understanding of our beloved country and of our respective roles in Malaysian society.
Malaysia Forum members come from all walks of life. Among active participants today are journalists, musicians, researchers, software developers and students. This diversity of backgrounds helps to bring out multiple perspectives during a typical conversation so that everyone who participates learns something new.
Malaysia Forum communities/events traditionally share the following values:
1. Semangat gotong royong
There are no appointed or elected leaders in MF. Another way we think about this is that everyone involved with MF is a leader, and yes, we know how corny this sounds! Malaysia Forum events are generally organised by groups of people working together, with rotating responsibilities depending on the unique talents that each person brings to the group. Everyone who is willing to dedicate time and energy to MF should have a say in its workings and direction. We hope that this encourages participants to get involved out of a genuine desire to learn and to share with others interested in Malaysian issues.
2. It's the PEOPLE, not the event
You may have heard of MF through an event. While events are an important part of what we do, we try not to focus on getting the most famous speakers or the largest crowds (of course, when we do get speakers, we try to make sure they are great!) . Our goal is always to help Malaysians (and other interested parties) engage each other in civil conversation. We believe that a small potluck where people listen to and learn from each other is better than a huge event with a famous speaker where only his opinion is heard.
3. Safe space for discussions
Our events should be 'safe spaces' for all people and all opinions. We try to ensure that everyone can have their voice heard in a welcoming environment.
In accordance with this, we conduct most of our meetings under the Chatham House Rule, which states that 'When a meeting, or part thereof, is held under the Chatham House Rule, participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant, may be revealed.'
Everyone is free to talk about their personal involvement with MF as well as what they have done or said during meetings, but s/he may not reveal such information about others without their permission. This rule applies to our mailing lists as well and has, to our knowledge, always been respected.
MF is a politically and ideologically neutral organization. In order to remain a safe space for open discussion, we do not take stands or issue statements; nor are we affiliated with any government or political party.
This does not mean that individuals cannot take stands or issue statements in their own name(s). Indeed, groups of participants have written opinion pieces inspired by MF events and some participants are columnists or journalists with local and international media.
Several members have also become active in partisan politics. Subsequent to this, they have reduced their direct involvement in MF and have respectfully refrained from using the organisation as a campaign platform.
The Malaysia Forum was founded in 2003 by a group of Malaysian students and young working people in the San Francisco Bay Area. Since then, conversations under the Malaysia Forum banner have occurred over the web via mailing lists and Facebook, and in other locations around the world including London, Sydney, Kuala Lumpur, Boston, Singapore and New York.
Our basic event is a discussion around a given topic – with no speaker or moderator but usually with food before, during and/or after. A reading list is frequently distributed beforehand. We occasionally invite speakers. In addition, we have organised several conferences. This year's (2013) is entitled 'Berpandangan Jauh' and will take place at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) on the 5th to 7th of April with satellite events around the world.
How do I get involved / keep informed?
- Talk to a friend in MF!
- Come to upcoming activities near you and/or help to organise them. We would love to get to know you!
- If there is no MF community near you, start one! Talk to your friends in MF or e-mail info[AT]malaysiaforum.org for resources, help etc.
- Join our mailing lists or Facebook groups.