The MAAC Executive Committee and approximately over 80 alumni were privileged to meet The Hon Julie Bishop MP, the Australian Minister of Foreign Affairs on 17 February 2014 in Kuala Lumpur. Minister Bishop was on her first official visit to Malaysia.
The event was held in conjunction with the launch of the inaugural ‘Australia-Malaysia Towards 2020’ scholarship program, an initiative that was announced at the signing of the Malaysia-Australia Free Trade Agreement to support Malaysia’s economic reform agenda. The ‘Towards 2020’ Undergraduate Scholarships will assist Malaysian undergraduates to study at Australian universities located in Malaysia. The Executive Awards will support Malaysian civil servants to undertake professional development opportunities in Australia.
The two inaugural Undergraduate Scholarship recipients were presented to:
Mrs Nastassia binti Affendi, who will study a Bachelor of Commerce at Swinburne University of Technology Sarawak Campus, and Mr Lee Siang Hin, who will study a Bachelor of Engineering at Monash University Malaysia.
The two inaugural Executive Award recipients were presented to:
Dr Masria binti Mustafa, who will attend conferences and undertake courses related to traffic management and crash investigations, and Mr Mohd Ridzwan Shahabudin, who will attend the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s International Participation in Graduate Training Program.
Minister Bishop remarked that education has been the essential key to the development of both Malaysia and Australia. She said ‘education is the foundation of the enduring relationship between our two nations and the foundation for our broader trade and investment ties and close cooperation across many areas of our strong bilateral relationship.’
In her speech, she brought audiences back to the 50s, the origins of the Australia-Malaysia education relationship – the Colombo Plan days, to the 80s, when Australia opened its doors to international students – where many self-funded Malaysians choose Australia as their study destination, to the current time, where there are three foreign Australian branch universities and many Australian twinning programs in Malaysia.
To build on this significant education legacy, a new scheme, New Colombo Plan, a reversal of the original scheme is underway and will see Australia’s best and brightest students to study in educational institutions in Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan and Singapore this year. She hopes that in 2015, Malaysia can be a part of the New Colombo Plan.
The MAAC Executive Committee, at the networking session, took the opportunity to share briefly with Minister Bishop on its own scholarship program, The Malaysia Australian Colombo Plan Commemoration (MACC) Scholarships, which is a two way scholarship sending Malaysians to study in Australia and the reverse. For more information on the MACC Scholarships.