Perdana Podcast | Tan Sri Prof Emeritus Datuk Dr. Mazlan Othman

Tan Sri Prof Emeritus Datuk Dr. Mazlan Othman

Tan Sri Prof. Emeritus Dr. Mazlan Othman obtained a Ph.D. in Astrophysics from the University of Otago , New Zealand, and became a lecturer at the Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) in 1981. She was seconded to the Prime Minister's Department in 1990 to set up and head the Planetarium Division, which subsequently became the Space Science Studies Division in 1993. In 1994, she was appointed by Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia as a professor of astrophysics. In 1999, she became the director of the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (OOSA) in Vienna, Austria. Afterwards, Dr. Othman returned to Malaysia to become the founding director-general of the National Space Agency (ANGKASA) beginning in July 2002. Dr. Othman also attended the Advanced Manager Programme at Harvard Business School in 2005. Upon retirement from Malaysian Civil Service in December 2007, she resumed her post as director of OOSA. In June 2009, Dr. Othman was appointed deputy director-general of the United Nations Office at Vienna (UNOV). Dr. Othman retired from the United Nations in December 2013 and was appointed project director of Mega Science 3.0 at Academy of Sciences Malaysia in August 2014.

The podcast episodes are excerpted from her conversation with the Foundation for Perdana Magazine.

1. Angkasawan

Dr Mazlan talks about the famed Ankasawan programme that she oversaw. She recalls how Dr. Mahathir wanted such a program to inspire the masses. It was Dr Mazlan who suggested that it should be open to all Malaysians to apply. She recalls how the press were very critical of the program at first and how merciless they were about various aspects of the program such as her suggestion to involve teh tarik experiments, which was very much about fluid dynamics. She says it was the most difficult three years of her career.

2. School Days

Dr Mazlan speaks about her schooling experience where she was initially very interested in the arts but was “forced” to go into science. This is something she doesn’t regret though as she found a love for Physics, and eventually, Astrophysics. She is something of a pioneer in this field. When she did her honours year as an undergraduate in New Zealand, she was the only female student and this was the case too when she went on to do her PhD.