NMF 2009 has concluded — thank you for helping make this year’s conference a success! Please visit revision2020.org for a transcript of online comments and discussion. For summaries of speeches, check out Yeoh Chen Chow’s liveblog!

Welcome, and thanks for being part of NMF 2009. Here’s what you need to know:

Why we are here

We believe that common vision is the key to our unity and our realizing the future we want.

We believe that the most effective and sustainable change comes about by changing mindsets, not changing institutions. We believe that a constructive spirit of discourse, characterized by engaging dialogue, empathetic understanding and effective agreement and action, is an essential component of a Malaysia 2.0 mindset, and one that can be cultivated.

What we seek to achieve

We seek, in this forum, to both create such a spirit of discourse and to participate therein by being (a) engaging, preferring proactive engagement in dialogue to disengaged apathy, (b) empathetic, actively seeking to understand each other on a human level, (c) effective, actively seeking out common ground and pursuing commensurate collective action thereof.

In the spirit of Revision 2020, we seek to focus all forum discussion on answering this fundamental question:

What is the mindset of Malaysia 2.0? As a developed country – economically, psychologically, spiritually, culturally, politically, scientifically, civilly – what is the way we would, and perhaps should, be thinking?

And here’s how: conversation, collaboration and a common commitment.

First, conversation. Together with our speakers, we will explore a broad range of topics, as they pertain to our fundamental question. This will be a global conversation bridging Malaysia and the Northeast, and broadcast to the world, with a concurrent online discussion space for live comments and questions. All NMFers, regardless of location, are invited to post their thoughts and questions on the space provided for everyone’s benefit (and the speaker’s/moderator’s consideration).

In the interest of keeping the conversation focused on the forum’s fundamental question, we advocate the following guideline, in three words: tangible personal vision. In deciding how to approach a particular topic, we aim to choose according to the following three criteria:

a. Tangible. We aim to focus on approaches that are readily actionable, as opposed to “if only” solutions that are largely contingent on external circumstance.

b. Personal. As opposed to institutional. We aim, as far as possible, to ask of every issue what it means to the single individual, and what appropriate response one may muster, in thought or deed.

c. Vision. Normative, not positive. In the spirit of revisioning 2020, we aim to be especially mindful of what might – and perhaps should – be, instead of debating the finer points of present-day events and policies.

Second, collaboration. We will form working discussion groups to further explore topics that pertain to our fundamental question, with each group coming up with its own answers to be presented and compiled at the end of the forum.

In the spirit of Malaysia 2.0, this section is designed to let NMFers make the most of their discussions from the bottom-up instead of having the topics and discussions dictated from the top-down.

Towards this end, we will be adopting the principles of Open Space Technology (OST) that essentially grant participants the freedom to (a) come up with topics and approaches towards the fundamental question that engage them, (b) lead the discussion on these topics independently, and (c) start new discussions and/or leave/join existing ones at any time they wish. The collaboration session begins with everyone gathered to go over OST ground rules as well as the fundamental question, following which NMFers begin to submit and announce topics of their own, and head to a group of their choosing, leading and taking responsibility for whatever discussions they happen to be part of, or leaving for another one if they feel that they are not adequately learning / contributing there.

This process will apply at all NMF locations globally. All working groups will be tracked by way of Google Docs, with each topic having its corresponding Google Doc (updated as discussion progresses), and all documents shared and listed in a common space, accessible to all other NMFers, who are encouraged to keep tabs on the current documents so as to learn from / contribute to ongoing discussions.

Third and finally, a common commitment. At the end of the day, all working groups are to consolidate their findings and ideas into a presentation-ready Doc (such that anyone previously unfamiliar with the discussion would be able to understand the gist and conclusions of their discussion without additional explanations), to be consolidated and published as version 1.0 of the collective NMF VisionWiki. This includes the global NMFers, even if they happen to meet at a later time.

There are many possible forms that a particular working group’s output may take. A group may recommend simple guiding principles for how a Malaysian 2.0 should think, imagine scenarios that may arise stemming from different possible mindsets, recommend simple individual actions towards developing a better mindset, draw upon historical/philosophical inspiration as a guide, etc. A useful rule of thumb: will this presentation help someone better imagine or understand what the Malaysia 2.0 mindset might be?

A compilation of presentations is of little significance without common agreement and a commitment to subsequent action. At NMF, we hope that the VisionWiki will not be a compilation of what-we-did, but an endorsement of what-we-can-and-do-agree-on, as a foundation for subsequent action. As such, we invite every single NMFer to ask of every presentation – what, in this, can we all agree on and, conversely, what might be open to further conversation?

Beyond NMF 2009

NMF 2009 may end this Sunday (04/12), but the spirit – and practice of NMF – will hopefully continue beyond!

Here’s a simple idea: One month, one forum, one action. We envision NMFers making a common commitment to meeting once a month, locally (and globally by way of the Web) to NMF, in the verb sense of the word, and to choose a small tangible action that they can individually and collectively undertake, that same month, towards a Malaysia 2.0.

Speaker Profiles at MF 2009

Zainah Anwar

Zainah Anwar is the Executive Director of Sisters in Islam, and a prominent feminist and public intellectual in Malaysia. She is the UC Berkeley-UCLA Distinguished Visitor from Southeast Asia for 2007-08. She received a postgraduate degree from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and is a former member of Malaysias Human Rights Commission. She has been profiled in the International Herald Tribune and on the PBS news show, “Frontline.” Sisters in Islam (SIS) is a Malaysian non-governmental organization committed to upholding the principles of justice and human rights for women within the framework of Islam. Their program is organized to provide legal services, public education, outreach and advocacy to promote legal reform and protect the rights of women.

Azly Rahman

Azly Rahman, a former lecturer at the University of Malaya, Malaysia, is now a columnist for the online newspaper, Malaysiakini.com. Besides holding a Columbia University doctorate in International Education Development, Anwar also holds Masters in International Education specializing in Peace Studies/Education and a Master of Arts in Communication and Education, both from Columbia University. He is currently preparing several manuscripts based on his 2004 doctoral dissertation submitted to Columbia University; a dissertation that addressed issues in international relations, cultural studies, and political theory. His views on multiculturalism in Malaysia have been sought by the international media and agencies such as The International Herald Tribune, Al Jazeera, and Reuters.

Meredith Weiss

Meredith Weiss is a research fellow at the East West Center, Washington. Her research interests include: civil society and social movements; processes of domestic political reform; and politics of ethnicity, class, and gender in Southeast Asia. She has served as lectured at Yale University and DePaul University, and was a visiting faculty fellow at Georgetown University’s Center for Democracy and the Third Sector. Her recent publications include The Politics of Protest: Civil Society and Coalitions for Political Change in Malaysia (Stanford University Press, Oct. 2005). Her ongoing research with the East West Center centers on student activism in Malaysia and the region as well as political parties and civil society in Malaysia, Singapore, and South East Asia.

Dato’ Tony Fernandes

Fernandes is a Malaysian entrepreneur and the founder of Tune Air Sdn. Bhd., who introduced Malaysia’s first budget no-frills airline, AirAsia. Educated at Epsom College (1977 – 1983) and then graduating from the London School of Economics in 1987, he worked very briefly with Virgin Atlantic as an auditor, subsequently becoming the financial controller for Richard Branson’s Virgin Records in London from 1987 to 1989. Tony was admitted as Associate Member of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) in 1991 and became Fellow Member in 1996. Upon his return to Malaysia, he became the youngest ever managing director of Warner Music (Malaysia) Sdn. Bhd. He subsequently became the South East Asian regional vice-president for Warner Music Group from 1992 to 2001. He rose to prominence by turning AirAsia, a fledging government-linked commercial airline, into a highly successful public-listed company.

Malik Imtiaz

Malik Imtiaz Sarwar is a leading Malaysian human rights lawyer and activist and the current president of the National Human Rights Society (HAKAM). Through HAKAM and a coalition of NGOs called Article 11 (after the constitutional guarantee of freedom of religion) of which HAKAM is a member, he has been actively involved in efforts to promote the rule of law and constitutionalism, particularly in the face of worrying trends of Islamization and race politics in government and wider society. He further actively promotes a civil rights discourse both in and outside court. In August 2006, a poster declaring him to be a traitor to Islam and calling for his death began circulating in Malaysia.

Bridget Welsh

Bridget Welsh is an Assistant Professor in the Southeast Asia Program at Johns Hopkins University, Washington D.C., and a political analyst. She graduated with a PhD from Columbia University, and speaks both Malay and Indonesian. She is a fellow at the Research School for Southeast Asia Studies at the Australian National University and the Institute for Strategic and International Studies at the National University of Malaysia in Bangi. In 2004, she edited a compilation of articles on globalisation in Malaysia and its effects on democracy which was published as Reflections: The Mahathir Years. In 2008, she travelled across Malaysia to study the ongoing election campaign, and wrote a series of articles for Malaysiakini analysing the elections and their aftermath.

Karim Raslan

Karim Raslan is a lawyer, columnist and author. After reading law at Cambridge University, he went on to found Raslan Loong, a leading corporate law firm in Malaysia. From November 2001 to February 2002, he was a Fulbright Scholar at Columbia University. He has written three books: Ceritalah: Malaysia in Transition, Heroes and Other Stories, and Journeys Through Southeast Asia: Ceritalah 2, and is currently working on his first novel. Dividing his time between his homes in Kuala Lumpur and Bali, Indonesia, Karim has spent the last five years observing Indonesian politics and society. He is also a keen analyst of Thai politics. His syndicated column, “Writers Journal”, is published weekly in newspapers across the Asia Pacific region, from Australia to China, with a total readership of 1.5 million.

Premesh Chandran

Premesh Chandran is the Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of Malaysiakini. He is also the co-founder and executive director of the Southeast Asia Centre for e-Media. Since its founding in 1999, Malaysiakini has become one of the most successful alternative online media outlets in Malaysia, reaching about 500,000 readers a month.

Mark Chang

Mark Chang is an Executive Director and Founder of JobStreet.com. He has also been its Chief Executive Officer since its inception. He obtained his Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Texas, Austin, USA in 1988 and a Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA in 1990. Prior to founding MOL Online Sdn Bhd in 1995 and subsequently JobStreet.com in 1997, Mark was with Kendall International, a US healthcare company, for six years, starting as a process engineer in 1990 before being promoted to manufacturing manager in 1992 and regional director of sales and marketing for Malaysia in 1994. He left Kendall International in 1996 to establish JobStreet.com. Under his direction, the JobStreet Group has expanded regionally.

Jeff Ooi

Jeff Ooi writes a popular blog, “Screenshots,” which he started on January 2, 2003. His blog, dubbed “the Most Influential Blog” by Malaysiakini, won the Asia Category of the Freedom Blog Awards given by Reporters without Borders. He also administrates photography forum called Lensa Malaysia, and was hired by CNET Asia as a tech blogger alongside other CNET Asia bloggers. He is the founder of USJ.com.my, a grassroots-managed community forum targeting Malaysia’s K-generation. He is an e-business consultant for vertical industries, an Open Source advocate, and a columnist for a business journal.

Colin Nicholas

Colin Nicholas is the founder and coordinator of the Center for Orang Asli Concerns (COAC). He has written and spoken extensively on Orang Asli issues and was one of the expert witnesses in the precedent-setting Orang Asli land rights case in 2002. His book The Orang Asli and the contest for resources: Indigenous politics, development and identity in Peninsular Malaysia was published in 2000 by the Copenhagen based International Working Group on Indigenous Affairs and the COAC. He is also a keen photographer and has had his photos used and exhibited in various media and events.