Thursday, September 17, 2009

‘Fast for the Nation, Peace for Malaysia; even from Tasmania'

Thursday September 17, 2009

‘Fast for the Nation, Peace for Malaysia; even from Tasmania'

By Jason Lee

Hobart: Waking up at the wee hours of a cool Wednesday morning, a group of the University of Tasmania students from Malaysia got out their beds into the freezing Tasmanian morning and met in the residential college’s dining hall to meet to fast. Yes, to fast.

According to news portal TheStar Online, the event was held to commemorate the country’s formation on Sept 16 and to promote peace among all. The initiative was shaped by Sivin Kit and his core group with the theme, ‘Fast for the Nation. Peace for Malaysia’.

Law student Jason Lee stumbled across this movement when he was invited to this ‘event’ over Facebook and jumped on the idea, making calls, convincing his Malaysian friends to wake up at 430am and come for fellowship and food for the ‘Sahur’.


(Pre-fast meal together at John Fisher College)

The pre-fast meal started with bananas, toasted bread and dates along with a full glass of water and good fellowship. First year medical student Wan Danial quipped that it was the “most fun ‘Sahur’ he had” as he shared how Muslims fast throughout the day and we learned interesting facts like how dates were Prophet Muhammad’s favourite food.

During the fasting period, participants were encouraged to carry their daily duties and tasks as usual and smile and do an extra act of kindness to people around you or afar, amongst other things according to

A pizza party was the ‘buka puasa’ (breaking of fast) of the day and with eye staring hungrily, the group feasted on the take away pizzas and shared about their experience during their fast.

Jeanne sharing about Malaysia's birthday during her international law presentation. (30% of assessment!)

Jeanne Loh, a born and bred Ipoh lass, in her international law class during the afternoon eloquently presented her thesis regarding women’s rights and its difference between Australia and Malaysia. Before ending her presentation, she mentioned that she felt she has a responsibility to address issues dealing with women’s rights in Malaysia alongside that today is Malaysia’s birthday and she is fasting for her nation.

“We all love Malaysia”, she added.

Of the two Singaporeans who joined in the fast, Valerie Tan mentioned that “Peace will be good in Malaysia”

Besides these Malaysians, there were more than 800 pledges from individuals and support groups to fast for the nation on Malaysia day. Various personalities supported the cause from former Bar Council president Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan, Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir to the beloved Chef Wan and Miss Malaysia 2007 Deborah Henry.

“Fasting from abroad was a way of showing our solidarity in supporting Malaysians who love Malaysia. We need not just celebrities to endorse events like these but every average Ahmad, Ah Kau and Arumugam like me and you to participate in a day like this! We are fasting all the way from Australia and glad to be part of a bigger picture!” said Jason Lee.

'(Semangat Muhibbah' - Racial Harmony)

“We even had a Malay, Chinese and Indian represented during our fast in the name of ‘Muhibbah’ (Racial Harmony)”, he said.

There are a sizeable number of Malaysians studying in Australia and despite the recent financial crisis and the rising exchange rate, the numbers have been nevertheless increasing. Many have since settled down or applied for their PR (permanent residency) in hope of ‘greener pastures’ leading to the contentious issue of brain drain in Malaysia.

During the 'Buka Puasa' at the University Apartments.

group pic 3

Organisers and supporters from Malaysia


  1. “We even had a Malay, Chinese and Indian represented during our fast in the name of ‘Muhibbah’ (Racial Harmony)”, he said.

    I've no doubt this was written with good intentions i.e. to show unity but I just feel that using such phrases may not be suitable and will not do justice to the other various communities that make up Malaysia as we love and know today.

    I'm referring to Erna's article in Malaysiakini "" where she writes "In West Malaysia, it seems, Malaysians are only Malay, Chinese or Indian. It is a disconcerting and sad feeling to be treated like an alien in your own country."

    I appreciate the sincerity and genuineness behind the intention; may we be spurred to move beyond the stereotypical "Malay, Chinese and Indian" and be a little more sensitive (not being politically correct here) on this matter.


  2. Thanks Etcetera,

    I just read Erna's article (fantastic story on the perspective from Sabah) and I realised we've been brought up with this stereotype.

    Will bear that in mind. Need to kick out old habits from what we've been drilled in through out our educational years in school!

    In fact I don't think I'll want to use the words Malay, Chinese and Indian, it is discriminatory to the 'lain-lains' (which I think is discriminatory also for calling them 'others')

    Thanks for the heads up!

    Jason Lee