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Malaysian Professor Sharpens Malaysia Focus At Frankfurt University's Southeast Asian Dept

Last update: 21/01/2014
By Manik Mehta

FRANKFURT, Jan 21 (Bernama) -- With the addition of a junior professor from Malaysia to its teaching staff two years ago, Frankfurt University's Department for Southeast Asian Studies has sharpened its Malaysia focus in its Southeast Asian studies programme.

Kuala Lumpur-born Sandra Khor Manickam, whose official title is junior professor, joined the Department of Southeast Asian Studies in February 2012.

The Frankfurt University's Department of Southeast Asian Studies has a unique teaching programme that includes courses on Southeast Asian politics, history, culture, social affairs, linguistics, etc. Bahasa Indonesia is taught but there is also emphasis on Bahasa Malaysia.

There are almost 120 students studying Southeast Asian studies as a major or minor subject at the department.

Sandra, who completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Southern California and obtained a Master's degree, majoring in history, from the International University of Singapore, later obtained a doctorate in history from the Australian Natural University of Canberra, writing a thesis on "Colonial Malaysian History".

Subsequently, she lectured on a part-time basis in Singapore until she was offered the present job at Frankfurt University's Department of Southeast Asian Studies.

"Frankfurt has a unique Department for Southeast Asian Studies, which holds classes in culture, history, social affairs, linguistics, etc of Southeast Asia. It is mandatory to learn Bahasa Indonesia but there is also heavy emphasis on Bahasa Malaysia," she told Bernama.

"Not much is known about Southeast Asia but people are travelling to Southeast Asia, mainly to Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia. The students show an eagerness to learn the region's languages including Thai, Bahasa Indonesia, etc," Sandra said.

It is important for a foreigner to learn German when living and working in Germany, as she has discovered from her own experience, not only for professional reasons but also for the day-to-day interaction with the local people.

Indeed, she advises Malaysian students to learn the German language, if they want to study in Germany.

The Department for Southeast Asian Studies also allows PhD students to teach.

While there has, traditionally, been strong interest in Indonesia, more and more students want to increase their knowledge about Malaysia, particularly its current affairs, and economic and social issues.

According to Malaysian sources in Frankfurt, Sandra is the only Malaysian professor in the country teaching Southeast Asian subjects at a German university.

Sandra said that she was trying to get the Malaysian chair from Leiden in the Netherlands to Frankfurt.

"That would go a long way to further enhancing understanding of Malaysia in Germany," she said.