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Reflection on the Formative Years of RISEAP and its Governing

I was first driven to put these thoughts on paper after having had a casual conversation with the President of RISEAP, Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud. This was a meeting we had in Singapore in February 2006. I had lamented, in passing, that the philosophical underpinnings that had helped to shape RISEAP in the first two decades of its formation have never been placed on record for the benefit of later generations. From his immediate response, I knew that Tan Sri Taib shared my sentiments.

In my mind, I could picture the ideal, which would be for a book to be written on the subject after some painstaking research. This could possibly be a project worthy of a post-graduate dissertation from some academic institution. Or it could be an assignment for a professional researcher who specializes in conducting survey interviews (with some of the founding leaders of the organization) and in the analysis of faith-based international organizations.

It would have been better if an effort of this nature were to take place sooner rather than later. This is especially in consideration of the fact that some of the early leaders of RISEAP have passed away (I am thinking of the first President of RISEAP, the late YTM Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj, [1] and one of the first Vice-Presidents, the late Dr. Muhammad Ali Wang of Australia).

But what would be the value of such an undertaking? Wouldn’t we be seen to be indulging in an obsession to preserve the legacies of the past and attempting to resist the need for change?

Undoubtedly, the need to consider re-inventing RISEAP, in the light of changing times and aspirations, is not to be withheld. But the value of the thoughts and experiences of past leaders must also not be forgotten or ignored, as they may help serve as a guide to future generations. Like Tan Sri Taib, I had been associated with RISEAP since its inauguration in November 1980, and had not missed attending all eleven RISEAP General Assemblies that have since been held in the last 26 years. We have also served on every single Executive Committee of RISEAP since its formation. I cannot predict how long I will remain active within RISEAP, and it occurred to me that if I took it upon myself to record some of my personal recollections, they may be of use to some future analyst or researcher in providing a glimpse of the kind of thoughts went through the minds of the founding fathers of RISEAP.

By Ridzuan Wu


[1] Hereinafter referred to in this essay as the “Tunku”

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