Open Letter to President Obama


Dear President Obama,

I am Abdillah Zamzuri, a 2013 Community Solutions Program (CSP) alumni, a program sponsored by the U.S Department of State and I am also the first Singaporean to be on this program.

As a fellow of the CSP working and developing a project on ‘Tolerance and Conflict Resolution’, I was attached to the University of California, Irvine (UCI), where I worked with a group of students who sought to bring peace on campus. The student organization, Students for Global Peacebuilding, had successfully organized the first ever Peace Week event in January 2014.

As President of the ‘World’s Most Powerful Country’, your continued silence for Israel’s onslaught and genocide of innocent civilian Palestinians in Gaza is unbecoming of a family man who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. 

You and your governments’ cowardice to stand against your biggest lobby and economy contributor is not representative of a government that believes, propagates and advocates for democracy and human rights. You and your government, in fact, only believes, propagates and advocates for democracy and human rights for Israel and Israel only.

A man without a backbone to stand for what is right, is not a man at all. You, Mr President, is looking a lot to look like that man, a man who has been demasculinized. Be a man, do the right thing. You would resist if you were illegally occupied. You would resist if your family was being harassed physically and mentally. You would resist if you were not able to sleep in peace every night. If you wouldn’t resist, then I pray that your family will have the opportunity to have such an experience, so that you can learn to empathize with others.

I plead and urge you, to dig deep into your soul to take the right course of action by being a good friend of Israel and to take all necessary action required to stop the genocide, the same way your government have intervened in previous conflicts. Wouldn’t good friends do all they can to help if they see their friend committing a crime? Wouldn’t good friends be the check and balance for a friend that has overstepped the line?

Should this job and task be one that conflicts your moral values, then perhaps, you should step down from your Presidency or you will very well go down in history as the President Without Moral Guts, just like all the other World Leaders who have stood at the side to continue watching this ongoing genocide.

The world needs to have peace.

The wall needs to be brought down so that people living on both sides can begin to have dialogues, to learn about one another, to have an understanding of one another, to clear misunderstandings with one another, to build trust with one another and most importantly, to love one another.

If there’s one thing that I have learnt from the many sharing sessions organized by the U.S Department of State representatives speaking on Conflict Resolution, is that to resolve conflict, parties need to focus on commonalities.

In this conflict, PEACE is a commonality shared by the GLOBAL COMMUNITY.

In this conflict, GENOCIDE is a common word to describe the situation in Gaza.

In this conflict, WAR CRIME is a common word that has been used to describe what Israel is doing.

Yours Truly,

2013 Community Solutions Program Alumni

Exercising Importance of Interfaith-Intercultural Understanding (for work and personal)


As part of my Community Solutions Program Fellowship follow-on project, a speech highlighting importance of Interfaith-Intercultural Understanding at Singapore Polytechnic to graduating students of Diploma in International Business.

If you are interested to have an Interfaith-Intercultural Understanding Program workshop for your school/organizations, email me abdillah@bydefinition.net

Other workshops available:
– Positive Bystander Intervention
– Successful Events Management
– Personal Leadership Planning
– and many more!

Follow me on twitter @AbdillahZamzuri

Orienteering Through Community Solutions Program


It’s 31,000 feet up in the air, 10 minutes past Singapore’s National Day and as I’m shuttling from DC to LAX, the need for extra rest is evident from the dark circles around my eyes.

The past week of orientation for the Community Solutions Program Fellowship has been extremely fast-paced and supercharged. Panel discussions and break-out sessions at Georgetown University Hotel and Conference Center had such a packed schedule that one would need to constantly be on their heels or they’d miss out on what was shared.

Evidently, it has also been the time where small bonds have been created amongst the participating individuals or Fellows as we are now addressed, although there never was a particular activity designed to encourage bonding. Bonding just happened and you just seem to find means and ways to find what our Networking trainer, Jim Wylde, mentioned; Commonalities and Needs.

Female CSP Fellows 2013

Female CSP Fellows 2013

And it’s really wonderful to put such a diverse group together because when you remove the Nationalities, everyone is really just the same; individuals who share a passion towards improving their community through the work that they do (the problems are just so similar EVERYWHERE IN THE WORLD!) and each and every single person comes with their own set of expert knowledge and experience.

It is unfortunate though that time has been too quick to pass to allow us to create stronger bonds just as we were getting used to one another’s company because of the responsibilities and reasons of why we are gathered here in the US in the first place.

But if there were takeaways from this orientation, it had to be the fact that I managed to experience what it was like to fast in the US and share the celebration of Eid with my new found friends.

Eid Mubarak!

Eid Mubarak!

For now, it’s another experience waiting.

The independent life in Orange County.

Being a Good ‘Fellow’


I am only hours away from my departure time to the United States of America where I will be spending the next 4 months serving out my Fellowship at University of California, Irvine working on the theme of Tolerance & Conflict Resolution. 

In this US Government sponsored scholarship under the Department of State and managed by IREX, the Community Solutions Program will see 60 global community leaders coming together to work on their chosen themes before returning back to their home country to implement a social-community project.

Being THE FIRST SINGAPOREAN to be on this program, there is a lot at stake, not only for future Singaporeans who wish to participate in this program, but also, for myself as an individual representing Singapore.

Singapore's First 'Ambassador'

Singapore’s First ‘Ambassador’

There hasn’t been much coverage on the English media with the exception of MediaCorp English news agencies (ChannelNews Asia and TODAY) giving me a bit of airtime, much of the support has come from the ones closest to me (via Facebook) and most definitely, the Malay media (Berita Harian, MediaCorp Malay News and MediaCorp Malay Radio) for the extensive coverage.

The current feel that I am getting would be one that I would describe as a scene from a movie that perhaps, most of us are familiar with. The storyboard would run along the lines of, 

“A village boy becomes the first villager in history to have been selected/accepted to work/study in the City/University. The whole village rallies in support, hoping the boy will be able to find a better life and come back with greater knowledge to help the rest of the villagers to seek an improved life. As the boy prepares to leave, the villagers comes to him to give him words of encouragement and for some, gives him something for the long journey ahead”.

Perhaps, that’s how I see my story churning out at this moment, playing the role of that village boy.

Who would have ever thought that the son of an orphaned immigrant with only P6 education who became a ship Captain and a self-employed seamstress cum home-maker would have gotten this far in life?

Certainly not the son, nor did anyone especially when society today demands that to be a success on its terms, you need to have at least a Bachelors Degree (which the family is unable to afford).

But opportunities come in many different forms and as to how our lives will eventually become, no one will ever know.

One thing for sure is that some dreams do come true  although not always as how you imagined it to be BUT God has his ways to put you on that path you wanted when you some of the things he likes (or at least I choose to believe so).

So, in the coming months to come, do stay tuned to this blog as I share my experiences (because I am otherwise forgetful).

Before I end, I do have a few people to thank for:

– Dimas, a friend from Indonesia who introduced me to this program

– Nurul from Singapore Press Holdings Berita Harian for the humbling news coverage

– Riz from MediaCorp Malay News for the coverage on TV

– Friends, Family and Colleagues for the undying love and support shown

– Anyone else who’s throwing your support behind me whom I haven’t a clue of (Send me a Comment! I will reply!) 

4 Months In The US


As of the time I’m writing this, I’ve only got another

34 DAYS

before I leave Singapore to spend the next 4 MONTHS in 

Image

It will be an interesting cultural learning experience once again as I embark on my 3rd exchange program. The first 2 being my Biennial NVSS NCC (Air) – Victoria, Melbourne Air Cadet Exchange Program in 2000 which lasted for 14 days and Ship for South East Asian Youth Program in 2007 which lasted for 52 days.

I’m really looking forward to this cultural learning, studying and working experience.

AND, here’s what’s interesting, I will be celebrating Hari Raya or Eid Celebration for the first time ever, OVERSEAS, away from any family member, with a 12 hour time difference to work and study on the theme of ‘Tolerance and Conflict Resolution’.

For those of you who are interested to read or find out more about this program I will be involved in, here’s a link to it:

Community Solutions Program

Community Solutions Program

I’d really like to list out the benefits of attending exchange programs but most Singaporeans wouldn’t be bothered anyway. Well, at least most people who attend are students and the adults just disappear.

Oh well, hopefully, there’d be more adult Singaporeans keen to attend exchange programs in the future.