Conveying the Culture of Malaysia

In August 2014, Dr. Adina Kamarudin has taken up her duties as the Malaysian Consul General in Germany. MALAYSIA INSIGHTS portraits her work and goals.

Dr. Adina, since your inauguration you have met many people and visited many places in Germany. How did you experience your first year of service and what impression have you gained from this country?
It’s been a wonderful first year for me but also very busy in the sense that there is a growing mutual interest between Germany and Malaysia. We see a lot of collaboration with Germany and increasing investments from German companies in Malaysia. We also had a lot of high level visits from Malaysian delegations to Germany, not only in Frankfurt but also in Düsseldorf, Munich and Stuttgart. My impression is that Germany is a very vibrant country with many high technology companies.  Frankfurt is a nicely sized city and is a very vibrant place with a good mixture of old and new. I also love how ‘international’ Frankfurt is.

As for the Germans, how do you get along with their different background and mentality?
I recently visited the company B. Braun and one interesting analogy its representative Dr. Jürgen Tertel told me was that Germans are like coconuts – very hard on the outside but very good and soft on the inside. And it is true, I found a lot of friendship here and many helpful people that are willing to extend their hands of friendship.

Before you came to Germany, in what other countries did you serve?
As a Consul General, Germany is my first country, but prior to that I was posted to Ireland to set up the Embassy there. Before that I served as a delegate to the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

So I can assume, it was not a culture shock for you coming to Germany…
No, not at all, because after high school I left for UK to obtain my first degree and also my Masters at the Cardiff University, so I found myself coming around the same region.

One of the main tasks of your office is, of course, the issuing of passports and visa and related legal administrative work. How many Malaysians are there in Germany, and would you say they are well connected as a community?
We have around 1,800 Malaysians registered in Germany, but I found there are many more that are not registered. Recently our Ambassador invited the representatives of the different Malaysian clubs in Germany to Berlin to the National Day reception, and that was a very good occasion to meet and got connected to each other and I hope we can further pursue this.

Apart from your regular administrative work you are very active in promoting the culture of Malaysia. Why do you do this, although it means a lot of extra work?
Thank you for asking, yes, this is a personal gratification for me. I think, sometimes you know a country only by destination but that’s not enough. If you know a person’s culture and background then you know the country itself much better. Culture is the way of living, it includes food, education, anthropology and many other things. Lately, on the Frankfurter Buchmesse, the Malaysian National Pavilion was themed “Flavours of Malaysia”, and therefore the Consulate worked out a cultural program together with the Malaysian Club Germany (MCD), the state of Johore, Tourism Malaysia and the Marriott hotel Frankfurt. For the whole week we had several cultural events with many cooking demonstrations and food promotions, including a dance troupe from the Johor Heritage Foundation. To have them here and perform in Frankfurt was sheer personal satisfaction for me.

There were also cultural performances at this year’s Malaysian Ball which is organized annually by the MCD at the Marriott hotel. This time you joint forces in organizing the event and extended it to “An ASEAN Evening”. What was the reason for that?
This year is Malaysia’s chairmanship of the ASEAN and that is why we centered the ball around a cultural and culinary journey to promote Malaysia and the other ASEAN states. The theme of Malaysia’s chairmanship is ‘People-centredness of ASEAN’.  I requested support from the Consul Generals from Indonesia and Thailand and am very thankful that they agreed to contribute performances by traditional groups.

What are the next major activities you are planning?
Well, of course I never like to be quiet (laughing), and I am always looking for new smart partnerships. Next, my attention is on Goethe University in Frankfurt. They plan to launch a resource center of Malaysia in May in collaboration with our Institute of Language and Literature to provide lots of information and reading/research resources about our language and literature. Thus, I am going to build up some cultural workshops before the opening, for example, appreciation of culture or appreciation of poetry. Secondly, I would like to visit some places like Thüringen or Münster which I haven’t been to so far, to learn about how Germany integrated and rebuilt itself after the war, especially in terms of the rehabilitation of heritage buildings. And finally, by the end of next year I will try to work out something again at the book fair, maybe on the art scene or architecture of Malaysia. I am always looking to bring something from Malaysia and learn from Germany as well.

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