Japan’s FM awards Malaysians for promoting bilateral ties

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 20 – Japan’s Foreign Ministry will be awarding four individuals and two groups this year for the role they have played in promoting ties between Malaysia and Japan.

The Japanese Foreign Minister’s Commendation is initiated with the aim to recognise and honour individuals and organisations that have made tremendous contribution to promote amity between Japan and other countries, a statement from the Japanese Embassy here said today.

The individuals commended this year, who represent a wide range of backgrounds, are Dr. Charles S. Vairappan, Professor of University of Malaysia Sabah (UMS), Associate Professor Kumaraguru A/L Ramayah of University Technology Malaysia (UTM), Mrs. Hasparina binti Abdul Ghafar, Head of Japanese Language and Cultural Center, Malaysia-Japan International Institute of Technology (MJIIT) and Mr. Kenneth Ch’ng, President of the Malaysian Origami Association.

The two groups receiving the commendations are the Japanese Language Teacher Education Programmes at the Institute of Teacher Education International Languages Campus (IPGKBA) and the Malaysia Kendo Association (MKA)

The statement said Dr. Charles S. Vairappan has been actively involved in collaborative research and education with
Japan, and his major contributions were in the joint research activities with Japanese research institutions through the Science and Technology Research Partnership for Sustainable Development (SATREPS) project and JICA Third Country Training Program (TCTP) on biodiversity conservation in Sabah.

He has been appointed as Hokkaido University Ambassador, Kagoshima University Network Ambassador, The University of Tokyo Visiting Professor and
Rakuno Gakuen University Visiting Professor. He has also initiated high school student exchange programs between Malaysian students and Keisei Super Science High School via Sakura Science Project.

Associate Professor Kumaraguru has made outstanding contributions in promoting Japanese Language education in Malaysia. He started up the Japanese Language course at University Technology Malaysia (UTM) in 1998. Under his leadership, the University has become one of the hubs for Japanese language education in the southern region of Peninsular Malaysia.

He actively introduces lifestyle and culture of Japan in his lectures. This has helped students in finding jobs at Japanese companies in Japan, as well as working with Japanese companies in Malaysia. Each year, the university also welcomes short-term students and trainees from several Japanese universities, including Tsukuba University, for international exchanges.

Hasparina has made a significant contribution to promote Japanese language education under the Look East Policy (LEP), which will be celebrating the 40th anniversary in 2022. She was a Japanese language lecturer in the program for study in KOSEN (a 5-year integrated engineering education in Japan) for 11 years. Hasparina has served as the Japanese lecturer for more than 7 years at MJIIT, the culmination of long-lasting bilateral cooperation under the LEP. MJIIT is celebrating 10th anniversary this year.

Kenneth Ch’ng founded the Malaysia Origami Association in 2014, dedicated to promote the art of paper-folding in Malaysia through various channels. He has been actively promoting origami through university lectures and seminars by introducing how computational origami is being developed and how origami designs are used in fields such as medicine and architecture.
He also actively promotes the Origami to primary and secondary school students via school visits. The association also creates unique Malaysian-themed pieces such as using origami to represent Malaysian fruits and flora to promote unique Malaysian origami creations.

As for the Institute of Teacher Education International Languages Campus (IPGKBA), it has greatly contributed to training Japanese teachers in Malaysia. The institute established the Programme in 2005 as the demand for Japanese language teachers at secondary schools increased. By 2013, IPGKBA had produced approximately 70 Japanese language teachers to teach at secondary schools in the entire country in Malaysia. After that the program had been shut down until it was resumed in 2019. On the resumed program, a total of 15 students graduated last year, and 8
students are studying in this program currently. The IPGKBA has been also providing in-service Japanese language teachers’ short-term training courses since 2009.

Since its establishment in 1971, the Malaysia Kendo Association (MKA) has been playing an important role in
the introduction and promotion of Kendo in Malaysia. It organises tournaments, such as the annual competition called the “Japanese Ambassador’s Cup”, as well as examinations and seminars to promote Kendo.