Australia’s leading international student news website

Malaysians of Melbourne University

Aun Ngo

Mon Jun 28 2010

It's a term well-served, says Brendan Tong as he looks back on his year as club president of the Malaysians of Melbourne University. Photo: Lydia Teh

It’s a term well-served, says Brendan Tong as he looks back on his year as club president of the Malaysians of Melbourne University. Photo: Lydia Teh

WHEN asked for recommendations, Brendan Tong rattles off a list of the tastiest and cheapest Asian eats in town without batting an eyelid.

On the top of his list: the Chilli Padi Restaurant at Melbourne Central, Coconut House and Thai Culinary on Elizabeth St.

“When they say they serve ‘authentic Malaysian food’, there is a significant amount of substance in that term, you have to try it out!” he enthuses.

“Malaysians love their food.

“One of the biggest problems faced by Malaysians when they come to Melbourne is actually the food. They just miss the taste of home.”

And so MoMu chooses its sponsors with this in mind, the majority of them food outlets, from small eateries to restaurants around town, like Carlton’s MyCube on Lygon St and Chai on Pelham St.

But the eating is as much about a gastronomical experience as it is a social one, Tong says.

The club has around 300 registered members, with many more turning up to its events.

MoMU’s last annual gala dinner Moonlight Oasis, was held on board a luxury cruise at the Docklands.

“We had 180 [guests], and the waiting list was almost as long,” he says.

The club also works hard to make university life more interesting for its members.

“We coordinate events for members to come together, make friends, bond with each other, and find a common interest,’‘ Tong says.

Every winter, students rush to sign up for MoMU’s annual ski trip.

“For the ski trip, half the people going up there actually don’t know how to ski!

“It’s the fun factor… we always have a very impressive turnout because people are willing to try something different,’‘ he says.

But the club is not an exclusive community, Tong is quick to point out.

Through Melbourne University’s Student Union, MoMU has networking opportunities with other student clubs, and activities are often organised around interest rather than nationality, he says.

“We are still part of the larger community. We have a network inside the university and a network outside the university.

“Everyone is ‘buddy-buddy’,” he says, employing a favourite Malaysian term.

Club members include Australian students keen to learn about the culture and language of Malaysians.

“We do have events that are culturally-oriented, like [celebrating] Chinese New Year, Hari Raya and Thaipusam,” Tong says.

“I personally know of one [Australian] member who speaks Bahasa Malaysia and is very keen on the Malaysian culture. He joined the club and made a lot of new Malaysian friends, and they get along great!”

The club is also here to help students, Tong says.

“It doesn’t matter whether it’s trivial stuff, like where to get their groceries, or things like where they should get accommodation.

“We have people that are interested in helping, and people that are interested in getting help – so we are that bridge that links them.

“At the end of the day, we do try to make their Melbourne experience a whole lot better.’‘

Tong finishes his term as MoMU president this August.