BATANG KALI, April 2019 - A group of young lecturers from Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) were recently chosen to lead a CSR (corporate social responsibility) project, as part of a team for the Academia-Industry Talent Exchange Programme (AI-XCHANGE): CEO Faculty Programme 2.0 Cycle 2.

The programme, which is under the Industry Network Division, Higher Education Department of the Ministry of Education, has selected 48 young (30-40 years old) PhD holders who are lecturers at the public universities around the country, to become fellows and placed in various industries for six months. 

Among others, they have been tasked with the planning and execution of a high-impact integrated CSR project with the company that they are attached to.

The project is known as Angkat 1.0: Uplifting Communities, which was led by Dr. Shangeetha Ganesan from School of Chemical Sciences, USM and supported by Yayasan USM (USM Foundation). She was selected based on the success of an earlier project in which she was involved in.

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Six other USM lecturers were also involved throughout the project, which received sponsorship from Duopharma Biotech Berhad and CIMB Foundation to build two houses for two Orang Asli families at Kampung Orang Asli, Kampung Gurney in Ulu Yam, Hulu Selangor. They were Dr. Tan Jun Jie, Dr. Shankar Karuppayah, Dr. Syaheerah, Dr. Sam Chan Siok Yee, Dr. Sukumar. The three days also saw the participation of various other agencies such as Sunlife Insurance, UPSI, IIUM, GPMS, UiTM, Jakoa, UKM, fellows of AiXCHANGE Cycle 1 and 2 to carry out community engagement activities such as educational activities kids, basic health screening, fun games and tree planting for the Orang Asli community of Kampung Gurney.

Dr. Shangeetha was given the proposal last year August by Prof. Arham Abdullah (Director of Industry Relations Division), to build home(s) for the Orang Asli community but the catch was to make this project unique to AiXCHANGE: CEO@Faculty 2.0. The last 8 months involved lots of discussions, meeting with the CEOs, selling of ideas effectively to the industry players and to get the public and private agencies to be willingly involved in the project. The project was pitched by the fellows to two of the companies involved in this program. The Group Managing Director of Duopharma Biotech Berhad, Mr. Leonard Ariff Abdul Shatar and CEO of CIMB Foundation, Dato’ Hamidah Naziadin were the two main sponsors for Angkat 1.0 as they sponsored a home each for the families of Mr. Ali and Mr. Kaseh.

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One of the biggest successes of Angkat 1.0 is the willingness of the various groups to come together under one roof to sponsor the activities for the three days and uplift the Orang Asli community of Kampung Gurney. Another notable success of the event is that, it attracted much needed attention to the village where the caterer for the event, Rimba Kalong Eco Resort chipped in to repair the toilet at the surau at Kampung Gurney and the office of YB Pn. June Leow sponsored the necessary equipment for the key handover ceremony. Other than that, the roads leading to the village got an instant cleaning up and repairs on the days leading to the event. Help just came pouring in one by one when it was needed the most.

According to Dr. Shangeetha, ‘As academicians, we often get too attached to chasing after research and academic development that contributing back to the society takes a second place in our priority list. Even when we do any community related activity, it is always in terms of educational activities. Being put in a position to lead Angkat 1.0, it certainly opened up my horizon on how much a small group of academicians can achieve if only we are willing to think out of the box. With a small but strong committee of 8 lecturers; Dr. Noorsidi (UTM), Dr. Norhaslinda (UiTM), Dr. Shankar Karuppayah (USM), Dr. Hafiz (UPSI), Dr. Mazlina (UKM), Dr. Syed Muthalib (UiTM) and Dr. Nur Rabiatull Aishah (UMP), we managed to bring the industry, academics and community together to pull off a project of this stature within 8 months. The last eight months really put our managerial, communication and time management skills to test. The sponsorship team was led by Dr. Shankar Karuppayah (IPv6, USM) and the 3D-printed key was prepared by our own Makers@USM team. Two of our USM lecturers, Dr Tan Jun Jie (IPPT, USM) and Dr. Sam Chan Siok Yee (School of Pharmacy, USM) were directly involved in the building of the house sponsored by Duopharma Biotech Berhad.

Throughout the three days, the rest of the fellows of CEO@Faculty 2.0 Cycle 2 and Cycle 1 as well as the team from Industry Relations Division, Department of Higher Education came to lend a helping hand to ensure the success of the event.

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On the last day of the event, the Prime Minister’s wife, YAB Tun Dr. Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali officiated the ceremony and handed over the keys to the house owners from Kampung Orang Asli, Kampung Gurney.

The Deputy Director-General of Higher Education (IPTS), Higher Education Division, Ministry of Education Malaysia (KPM), YBhg. Dato’ Prof. Ir. Dr. Mohd Saleh Jaafar later said, “The lecturers are placed in 26 private companies to provide them with the exposure to the working culture of the industry, as a move towards preparing them to become outstanding lecturers in facing various challenges in the future.”  

The successful projects reflect the values of the Ministry of Education, which are: Love, Happiness, Mutual Respect, which were shared through the cooperation between the Ministry, the academia and the industry.

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Also present at the ceremony were wife of the Minister of Education, YBrs. Dr. Hamidah Mat; Member of Parliament for Hulu Selangor, YB Puan June Leow Hsiad Hui; Group Managing Director of Duopharma Biotech Berhad, YBhg. Mr. Leonard Ariff Abdul Shatar and Chief Executive Officer of CIMB Foundation, YBhg. Dato’ Hamidah Naziadin.

Text: Dr. G. Shangeetha & Dr. Chan Siok Yee

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