Ambassador Oka visits UTAR

Prof Ewe (left) and Ambassador Oka in discussion

UTAR was proud to welcome the Ambassador of Japan to Malaysia His Excellency Ambassador Oka Hiroshi to UTAR Sungai Long Campus on 21 April 2021.

Ambassador Oka was also joined by Education and Science Attaché Saito Yukiyoshi, Japan Graduates’ Association of Malaysia (JAGAM) Advisor Goh Peng Ooi, JAGAM President Gary Tang Kok Lian and JAGAM Central Branch (JCB) Committee Deputy Chairman Olivia Lam Chee Teng.

The guests were welcomed by UTAR President Ir Prof Dr Ewe Hong Tat along with UTAR Vice President for Internationalisation and Academic Development Ir Prof Dr Yow Ho Kwang, Faculty of Accountancy and Management Dean Dr Sia Bee Chuan, Faculty of Creative Industries Dean Dr David Tneh Cheng Eng, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences Deputy Dean for R&D and Postgraduate Programmes Prof Dr Alan Ong Han Kiat, Lee Kong Chian Faculty of Engineering and Science Deputy Dean for Student Development and Industrial Training Ts Assoc Prof Dr Lee Kim Yee, Division of Community and International Networking Director Assoc Prof Dr Lai Soon Onn, Division of Corporate Communication and Public Relations Director Ong Soo Weon, Division of Examinations, Awards and Scholarships Director Nik Zaitun binti Nik Salleh and Division of Community and International Networking Deputy Director Dr Chen, I-Chi.

Ambassador Oka spoke about educational opportunities in Japan

Visiting UTAR for the first time, Ambassador Oka expressed his gratitude to UTAR for the arrangement and said, “I would like to start this by saying that I am so grateful to be in this very prestigious UTAR Campus today. UTAR stands out for its achievements in comprehensive strength, discipline construction, academic reputation and international influence, and cultivated talents in various fields since its establishment. Most importantly, UTAR has made positive contributions to the Japan-Malaysia educational cooperation and has close ties with higher learning institutions in Japan. Thank you UTAR for the consistent support and I hope our relationship with each other will continue to strengthen through cooperation for the betterment of the two countries.”

Ambassador Oka added, “We have Japan Graduates’ Association of Malaysia (JAGAM) members joining us today. They are JAGAM advisor Goh Peng Ooi and JAGAM President Gary Tang Kok Lian who have been actively helping Malaysian students to pursue their studies in Japan. They are the best people to share about the educational opportunities available in Japan as they have completed their education in Japan. I am glad that UTAR has allowed JAGAM to share about the Japanese Government (Monbukagakusho: MEXT) Scholarship virtually to UTAR students as well as the educational opportunities available in Japan. I am proud that 11 promising Malaysian students were selected last year among the 125 students by the government of Japan through global competition to pursue undergraduate studies in Japanese universities. This is the evidence of the high standard of education in Malaysia. As postgraduate category application of MEXT Scholarship 2022 is open*, we look forward to receiving applications from UTAR students.”


Prof Ewe extending his warm welcome to Ambassador Oka and other guests

Prof Ewe expressed, “I would like to say that we are indeed honoured to have Ambassador Oka visit our Sungai Long Campus today.  UTAR’s collaborations with Japan and its institutions started way back as early as 2005 when the Toray Science Foundation presented RM20,000 for R&D co-research work on silicon nanocrystals by our Engineering staff. Since then, almost every year the Toray Science Foundation in Malaysia has been sponsoring R&D projects involving our researchers and Faculty staff. We are indeed thankful to the Foundation for their continuous support all these years.”

Prof Ewe added, “Over the years, other Japanese organisations have sought collaborations with our UTAR researchers. Among them are the Sumitomo Foundation Grant which commenced in 2009 for R&D work on English Language and many sponsored projects followed subsequently; the others are Daikin R&D Malaysia in 2014 for research work on heat exchange in pipes, KURITA Water and Environment Foundation in 2017, Kindai University in 2018, ICT Virtual Organisation of ASEAN Institutes and NICT in 2020 and Toshiba International Foundation in 2021. So far, there are a total of 38 R&D projects with Japanese Foundations and organisations. UTAR is indeed thankful for the funding and support towards all the R&D projects.”

Speaking of UTAR’s collaborations with the Japanese universities, he said, “In international staff and student exchanges and study tours, UTAR has also been actively engaging with Japanese Universities over the years. UTAR has MoU agreements with 22 Japanese universities and 2 organisations for exchanges, R&D and training. In January 2021, one of our UTAR students was accepted to do PhD studies at Gifu University under the MEXT programme. So far since 2017, 879 students from Japan have visited UTAR University campuses on study tours and student exchanges and an additional 31 Japanese students joined our virtual study tours since 2020 when the pandemic started. In return, 346 UTAR students went over to Japanese universities under the outbound student exchange programme. Since 2020, 341 UTAR students have joined the virtual outbound exchange programme since the pandemic stopped all international travels. Our connection with Japan is quite far-reaching and we are indeed very happy to continue our partnerships with Japanese universities and organisations now and in the years ahead.”

During the meeting, Prof Ewe suggested some potential areas of collaboration that would benefit both parties. Other possible areas of collaboration were also brought up by both parties during the meeting, including Japanese Government (MEXT) Scholarship for Research Students, collaborations between UTAR and Higher Institutions in Japan and collaborations between UTAR and Local Japanese Industries.


Gary Tang looking forward to collaborating with UTAR in many other areas

Gary Tang enthused, “As JAGAM President, we look forward to working together with UTAR in many other areas. JAGAM will join with the Japanese Chamber of Trade and Industry (JACTIM) in Malaysia to organise UTAR career fair in the future. I am happy to hear that many students in UTAR are choosing the Japanese language as their elective language subject. It will be an advantage for students if they are interested in applying for the MEXT Scholarship when they master both English and Japanese languages.”

Apart from that, a lab tour and a virtual briefing on MEXT Scholarship were held concurrently. Ambassador Oka was brought to several lab locations such as the Game Room, Mac Labs, Broadcast lab, The Early Childhood Lab, 3D Printers Room, Power Lab and so on. The tour was led by Prof Ewe.

Ambassador Oka (left) and Prof Ewe (right) in the broadcasting studio

The visit ended with a souvenir exchange between Prof Ewe and Ambassador Oka, followed by a group photography session.

From left: Prof Ewe and Ambassador Oka

Education and Science Attaché Saito Yukiyoshi


From left: Dr Lee, Dr Lai, Prof Yow, Gary Tang, Prof Ewe, Ambassador Oka, Goh, Dr Sia, Prof Alan Ong and Dr David Tneh

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