Tuesday, February 2, 2016


Chairman of the programme, Dr. Fadzila Azni Ahmad giving a memento to
Professor Dr. Levi Geir Eidhamar for the 8th Annual Lecture Series between ISDEV and UiA, Norway
On 28 January 2016, ISDEV had successfully organized the 8th Annual Lecture Series on Contemporary Islam in Malaysia. There were more than 80 participants in this programme consisting mainly of ISDEV students and lecturers as well as the undergraduate students from the University of Agder (UiA), Norway. 
Some of UiA undergraduates students listening and jot down notes from the speech
The 22 UiA undergraduates students of “Religion in Asia” study programme were led by Professor Dr. Levi Geir Eidhamar. It was an annual occasion resulting from the signing of an Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) and University of Agder, Norway in 2007. ISDEV Deputy Director, Dr. Fadzila Azni Ahmad, served as Chairman of the programme while Dr. Shereeza Mohammed Saniff served as the Moderator. The programme took place at University Conference Hall (DPU), USM. 
Invited speaker, Azril Mohd Amin delivering his speech with full spirit
The programme was divided into two sessions. The first session saw the invited speaker, a Fellow from the Islamic Institute of Islamic Strategic Research  Malaysia (IKSIM), Azril Mohd Amin gave a talk on “Conversion Issues in  Malaysia based on the Laws in Malaysia and the Special Rights of Bumiputera in Malaysia”. He is also the Chief Executive Officer of the Centre for Human Rights Research and Advocacy (CENTHRA), a lawyer and an Islamic NGO activist. His interlocutory skills and being a well-travelled Islamic human rights activists has prepared him well for the task at hand for this programme.
During the Question & Answer session - The invited speaker, Azril Mohd Amin calmly
answered all the question to fill the curiousity from the audience
 Azril's one-and-half-hour talk was divided into two main topics. In his clarification of a case in point, the speaker tactfully finds points of similarities that bids well with the participants. His first topic touched on the state of affairs of the conversion issues from the legislative and reported case laws perspectives in Malaysia. He cited relevant articles in the Federal Constitution and then provided some verbal illustrations pertaining to court cases on reverting back to Islam as well as some cases of those who had made application to return to their religion of birth or to determine the religion for their minor-aged children from their estranged spouse. He also touched on some technicalities of the laws pertaining to those who are born Muslims.
Prof. Levi asking questions for clearer understanding on the topic deliver by the speaker
The second topic was on the special rights of the Bumiputera in Malaysia where Azril brought the participants back in history to appreciate the significance of the Nusantara or Tanah Melayu as well as the strong Malay Muslim Sultanate background permeating Malaysia until this very day. It was with such strong understanding of this unique background that even the British respected and ensured through the Reid Commission that Article 3 and  Article 153 of the Federal Constitution were drafted, preserved and upheld until today. He then went on to mention about the effect of the National Economic Policy (NEP) and the National Development Policy (NDP). The optimum desired results of both the NEP and NDP is still an ongoing process requiring all stakeholders to proactively look for alternative formula and solutions that can benefit all people in Malaysia.
One of the UiA student asking questions and keen to get more details on
 the speech delivered by the speaker
The second part was a truly lively and vibrant Question & Answer session. Almost all the undergraduate Norwegian students at DPU were keen to get more details on the points shared by the speaker. Coming from a well-developed country with a conventional development paradigm, where Muslims are a minority, these students really took the opportunity to clear the air about their views on Islam and the Muslims. In his clarification of a case in point, the speaker finds points of similarities that bids well with the participants. Azril was able to tactfully tackle and answer the myriads of questions fielded by these students.
Group photo with ISDEV Director, Professor Dr. Muhammad Syukri Salleh, Professor Dr. Levi Geir Eidhamar, Azril Mohd Amin as well as ISDEV and UiA students at the end of the programme
Overall, from the reaction and gleeful faces exhibited by the students of UiA, the programme had indeed provided satisfactory information to their queries and apprehensiveness pertaining to the two issues tackled by the speaker. In fact Prof Levi had on a few occasion throughout the programme declared the excellent manner in which the questions fielded were brilliantly answered. He expressed his ardent hopes that he is able to return to USM next year with a new batch of students from UiA.

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