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Speech at the Presentation Ceremony of The Japan Foundation Awards and Special Prizes

Source: Tokyo, Japan

Haji Abdul Razak bin Abdul Hamid
Head of Look East Policy Programme, Centre of Preparatory Education, MARA Institute of Technology
Recipient of the Japan Foundation Special Price for 1995

It was on the eve of the 50th anniversary of the atomic bomb explosion that I was contacted by the Japan Foundation. I was then in Hiroshima, at the invitation of the Mayor, to join thousands of others in mourning one of the worse tragedies of war. This occasion means a great deal to me because I am one of those who are fortunate enough to be alive despite having been about 1.5km from the epicentre of the explosion on the morning of August 6, 1945.

On reflection, it all started in 1942, when I was first introduced to the Japanese language in Malaysia (then called Malaya) during the war. I was fascinated by the language and this brought me to Japan in 1944 to further my studies in the field of education. After living with the Japanese people, I began to learn about the beauty of the Japanese culture, which has many similarities with my own, the Malay culture. I soon felt very much at home in Japan, a country that I have come to regard as my second home; in particular, Hiroshima. Upon my return from Japan after the war, Hiroshima occupied a special place in my heart. In 1991, a book Waga Kokoro No Hiroshima (Hiroshima in My Heart) was published in Japan, dedicated to these memories. My interest in anything Japanese continues unabated.

When the Prime Minister of Malaysia, the Rt. Honorable Dato' Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad envisioned the `Look East' Policy in early 1982, I was fortunate enough to be appointed as the Head of the `Look East' Policy Programme. It gives me a golden opportunity to be able to work ever so closely with Japan, especially in teaching the Japanese language to thousands of Malaysian students, officers, and professionals. Through this Program, too, I have been able to introduce the Japanese culture and work ethics to the Malaysian trainees in the quest of their own national vision, Vision 2020.

Now, after more than 10 years as the Head of the Programme, I feel privileged to have been given the chance to build a number of human bridges between our two countries. Personally, my relationship with Japan and the Japanese people grew from strength to strength over the years.

It is in the context of all these that the desicion of the Japan Foundation to confer upon me this honour gives such an overwhelming feeling. Overwhelming because it coincides with the 50th anniversary of my historic experience in Hiroshima. And overwhelming because it was beyond my expectations and wildest dreams. Indeed, 1995 will go down in my diary as another historic experience thanks to your generosity. You have been very kind to consider my modest contribution as worthy of such a high honour.

In closing, I would like to express my sincere thanks for this recognition.

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