Bruneian scholar Dr Najib Noorashid from Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD) said his scholarly works have always focussed on the potential of developing the potential of Malay language not just in Brunei and the Malay world, but beyond Malay countries.
He made these comments during an interview on the sidelines of ‘The Making of Southeast Asianists in Southeast Asia’ workshop organised by the Southeast Asian Studies Regional Exchange Programme (SEASREP) Foundation in Bangkok, Thailand on December 10 and 11.
Dr Najib said he has learnt a lot from SEASREP and other representatives at the workshop and encouraged more critical research on issues concerning Malay language, culture, identity and nationalism as part of Southeast Asian studies.
“At the workshop, I witnessed reports on Southeast Asian students who show interest in learning Bahasa Melayu Indonesia, aside from other languages such as Thai, Vietnamese and English.
“This has shown the potential of conducting more collaborative research about Malay language in transnational contexts in Southeast region. SEASREP gives young scholars like me the opportunity to do so,” he added.
Dr Najib also recalled his inspiration in conducting research on Malay language in Southeast Asian contexts and their prospects by referring to earlier works by scholars at UBD. “As a young scholar, I am fortunate enough to have received academic advice from scholars such as Associate Professor Dr Chang Yau Hoon from the Institute of Asian Studies and Associate Professor Dr Noor Azam bin Haji Othman and Associate Professor Dr James McLellan from the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, UBD,” he said.
Twelve emerging scholars representing 10 Southeast Asian universities participated in the workshop.
They discussed various Southeast Asian concerns including research methodological issues, challenges and resolution pertaining to language, culture, religion, society, gender, and human rights, among others.
Dr Najib presented a critical thinking piece on ‘Shifting Selves’ and ‘Against the Current: Researching Malay Linguistics, Identities, and Nationalism in the Malay World’ sharing his own experience as an academic conducting sociolinguistic research in Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore.
The SEASREP Foundation is a non-profit organisation that works in advance the study of Southeast Asia through various research, study and exchange grants and establish a network of scholars in the region through universities and other channels.