January 2020 

Seen Star Wars: Episode IX yet?

Not that I am a fan, or I was roped in to promote the movie, but rather it’s the human elements that can be found in the movie that is something that we should attest to.

When Poe Dameron, a starfighter commander in the Resistance was chosen by General Leia Organa to become Acting General before her death, he then told his closest friends and followers (humans and non-humans) that they need to do battle with the enemy together. It’s not a one-man show.

Similarly for the robots or ‘droids’ in the movie, they have exhibited camaraderie akin to their human ‘partners’ in the war. For them, it goes beyond species (the more intelligent ones) too.

Although the 9-episode, fictionalised space opera supposedly took place in ‘a galaxy far, far away’, the values seen in the movie is universal and time immemorial. The theme of PARTNERSHIP has been evident in all episodes. It’s part of what they believe in, whether they are (space-bound) humans, pre-programmed robots or of other species.

Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) has also been actively pursuing collaborations and partnerships with many different partners all the while.

From working together with other academic institutions and industries in research and academic programmes, to providing consultancies and conducting community projects at various locations, USM realises the value of engagement with the community at different levels.

The Division of Industry and Community Network (BJIM) would lead in many of the efforts relating to establishing partnerships at various levels and for different projects. One example would be the Asia-Pacific University Community Engagement Network (APUCEN), a regional network initiated by USM.

Currently it has 84 member institutions, 4 affiliate members, 5 associate members and 2 corporate members. The members comprise of local and foreign entities, which would plan programmes and contribute or provide assistance to the growth and development of other communities in need globally, more specifically the ones marginalised or those affected by disasters.


APUCEN professes to this statement on its website: “The hallmark of engagement is the development of partnerships that ensure a mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge between the University and the community” (Holland and Ramaley, 2008).

It’s similar in meaning to the idiom ‘Many Hands Make Light Work’.

This is very much in line with the 17 Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs, set by the United Nations (UN) in order to attain a sustainable and inclusive development for the future of the world. They are meant to be achieved with Agenda 2030, which has been agreed upon by UN member countries.

In fact, one of the SDGs, SDG 17, looks into strengthening the means of implementation and revitalise the global partnership for sustainable development. It is hoped that the world would achieve peace and prosperity by 2030.

The Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, has earlier stated the country’s commitment to the SDGs when he addressed the SDG Summit at the UN in New York on September 26, 2019.

He launched the Shared Prosperity Vision 2030 for the country when he was chosen as Prime Minister for the second time. In short, the idea would be to ensure that all Malaysians would be involved in and benefit from programmes planned by the government and other related authorities that would bring peace and prosperity by the year 2030.

Tan Sri Michael Yeoh, an Executive Council member of the UN ESCAP Sustainable Business Network stated in an article on the UN SDG Summit that he hopes for more Malaysian CEOs and companies to come forward to champion the SDGs and commit to sustainable and inclusive development. He urged for all to work together for the 5Ps – planet, people, prosperity, partnerships and peace.

That is how USM does it. And Star Wars says it too. For all it’s worth, and for a sustainable tomorrow.

Text: Mazlan Hanafi Basharudin

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