Wednesday, January 4, 2012
Penang is a state in Malaysia and the name of its constituent island, located on the northwest coast of Peninsular Malaysia. Highly urbanized and industrialized, Penang is one of the most developed and economically important states in the Country, as well as a thriving tourist destination. The population is also highly diverse in ethnicity, culture, and language. It is also widely recognized as the most socially progressive state in Malaysia.
While in Penang I had the wonderful opportunity to have Dr. Anwar Fazal, EF circa 1975, not only personally show me around and tell me all about Penang, its history, culture, people, etc…but Dr. Fazal also gave me life lessons that will last a lifetime as I continue my journeys, professionally and personally. Just a little bit about Dr. Fazal, he is an academic, historian, advocate, world health leader, just to name a few titles. He is clearly one of the most passionate people I have met in some time. His website is www.anwarfazal.net; Also visit www.rightlivelihood.org. I LOVED meeting him and having his insight and zeal as my guide into the pleasures and history of Penang.
One of the first things that I learned about Penang from Dr. Fazal is that “Penang is great for the small things”. Meaning that many treasures are either made, developed, from, or created in Penang, but they are small things…nonetheless important to the process or the role of its derivation. Very interesting concept that I kept seeing reiterated over and over as I got to know this small island. Dr. Anwar and I spent hours taking long walks all around Georgetown, city of Penang proper. We ducked into small cafes and had teas, coffees, Penang delicacies. He “schooled” me on life, health, South East Asia, politics, food, etc… I felt like I was a student, willing and eager to learn everything that I could. Something that we spoke about was also the history of the Eisenhower Fellowship and the politics of President Eisenhower. It was very cool to learn more about the namesake of organization that I now was a member of and belonged. One of the famous quotes that he shared with me stated by President Eisenhower was this “The greatest danger that we face in the US is the military industrial complex”. Had you asked me the significance of this quote before my Fellowship I would have had some challenges giving a substantive response. However, after traveling to South and South East Asia I have a totally different view on this statement. One of the things that I learned about the US, being outside of the US, is just how powerful our lobbyists are to creating, cutting, pushing, manipulating, deciding, etc….private sector and government legislation, not just about military expenditures, but about mostly everything…that includes the controversial healthcare issues, gun laws, defense spending, even telecommunications. I know that this may be very known to many, and it was known to me as well, but when you travel so many of these truths take on such a new awareness.
Thank you Dr. Anwar. Some of the greatest lessons learned all year were with you.
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