What is French Talks?

Welcoming French and Malaysian experts, it aims at creating a space of dialogue and a bridge between the two countries and their cultures.

Organised by the Embassy of France in Malaysia and Alliance Française de Kuala Lumpur.

Talks conducted in English.

Upcoming French Talks in December (Online Event)

French Texts and Contexts of community life in 19th Century Malaya

Date: Monday, 7 December 2020
Time: 8pm
Online Event on Facebook Live @AllianceFrancaisedeKL

Associate Profesor Dr. Shanthini Pillai of UKM will discuss, with her research team Dr. Liz Ng, Dr. Suziana Mat Saad, and Ms. Anne Vanessa Vincent, the inter-ethnic encounters of French missionaries and explorers with various local communities in the Malayan territories in the 19th century and how these formed counter-narratives to the British colonial divide and rule policy.

More Info

Past Events:

 Tackling Obesity in Malaysia and France

Venue: AFKL

17 February 2020


Prof. Dr. Jean-Pierre Poulain
 - Professor Jean-Pierre Poulain is a sociologist and anthropologist at University of Toulouse, (France). His research focus on the changes of eating patterns and their links with health in the frame of CERTOP UMR-CNRS 5044. He currently holds the Chair of Food Studies, jointly created by the University of Toulouse and Taylor’s University; Kuala Lumpur, (Malaysia) and co-directs the International Associated Laboratory (LIA-CNRS) “Food, Cultures and Health”. For the French National Food Council (CNA), he was co-author, with Professors Ambroise Martin (nutritionist) and Claude Ricour (pediatrician), of the report entitled "110 measures to fight against childhood obesity". For the French Ministry of Health, he has co-chair, with Professor Marcel Rufo (child psychiatrist) the working group on "Nutrition and body image".
Prof. Dr. Mohd Ismail Noor - Emeritus Professor Mohd Ismail Noor is a Nutritionist, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia where he served for 35 years (1976-2011). He had also worked as a contract Professor in UniSZA (2011-12), UiTM (2012-14) and Taylor’s University (2014-2019). His research interest includes energy requirements, energy balance, obesity, nutritional status of selected population groups including sports nutrition. He is the President, Malaysian Association for the study of Obesity (2019-2021) and Vice-President Nutrition Society of Malaysia (2018-2020). He is Fellow Academy Sciences Malaysia and Foreign Correspondent, French Academy of Medicine. He co-directs the International Associated Laboratory (LIA-CNRS) “Food, Cultures and Health”

 Mysterious myth Of The Malaysian Forest At Night

Venue: AFKL

20 January 2020


Priscillia Miard
 - Postgraduate Student (PhD) from Universiti Sains Malaysia in Penang studying nocturnal mammal distribution, abundance and behaviour
Mohamad Nur Arifuddin - Postgraduate student (MSc) from Universiti Malaysia Kelantan studying the ecology of the gliding squirrels in Peninsular Malaysia

The forest at night is often a mysterious world for many inhabited by unknown animals. Do you already know about them or want to know more? Priscillia and Arif will present this world to you and why they decided to become nocturnal for their work. They both come from a different background, but they have the same interest, to protect nature.  You might be surprised to find out that many animals do not live where you think they do, but at your doorstep. During this talk we will also present to you why those nocturnal animals are important for our everyday life without us realising it. 
Coexistence is the key and is possible not only in rural areas but also in cities. 


Venue: AFKL

16 December  2019

Amir Muhammad - Matahari Books Publisher
Hélène Ly-Batallan - Translator of the text
Introduction by
HE Frédéric Laplanche - Ambassador of France to Malaysia
Readings by
Grégory Henno - French Comedian

After the successful launch of the book ‘What I saw in Malaya’ by Jeanne Cuisinier at the Georgetown Literary Festival, we are very proud to launch it in Kuala Lumpur! The session will start with a book excerpt reading by French comedian Grégory Henno and will be followed by a dialog between Amir Muhammad, publisher of the book, HE Frédéric Laplanche, Ambassador of France to Malaysia and Hélène Ly-Batallan, translator of the texts presented in the book. They will discuss the works of Jeanne Cuisinier as well as her experience in Kelantan in the 1930s and the impressions she has drawn from in.

In conversation with Hanan Ben Rhouma : Talking about Islam in Multicultural Societies

Speakers: Hanan Ben Rhouma
Moderator: Dina Zaman
Venue: AFKL

25 November 2019   

Hanan Ben Rhouma and Dina Zaman will exchange views on how to deal with religion (and particularly Islam) in multicultural societies, as journalists who have to take into account both the specific needs of their audience and the sensitivities of different groups, while staying away from the sensationalist coverage of Islam which is often found in mainstream media. They will also discuss the freedom of expression and of religion in the specific context of French secularism (laïcité). If media are meant to be a mirror of society, how should media cover religions in multicultural and multireligious societies?

In conversation with Abdennour Bidar: Multi- Religious Societies in the 21st Century

Speakers: Abdennour Bidar
Moderator: Dr. Mohammed Azam Mohammed Adil
Venue: IAIS Malaysia

24 October 2019   

French philosopher Abdennour Bidar and Malaysian Islamic Law expert Dr. Mhd Azam Mhd Adil will have a discussion on the topic of societies hosting multi-religious groups. They will exchange on the solutions supported in France and the solutions found in Malaysia and South-East Asia.

Youtube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=49jYmBbEvyw

Dealing with Urban Pollution: From KL to Paris

Speakers: Olivier Chrétien, Karine Léger, Dr. Ahmad Ismail, Professor Andy Chan 
Moderator: Yao-Hua Law

7 October 2019   

In a context of rarefying energetic resources, technical innovations and evolutions of individual behaviours have become the key in finding sustainable solutions to urban life. But designing a sustainable city doesn’t amount to mere energetic sufficiency: ensuring a safe environment and reducing social inequalities are vital topics to consider, in which dealing with urban pollution takes a direct part. In this French Talk session, French experts Ms Karine Léger and Mr Olivier Chrétien will address the question of air, noise, water and light pollutions in the urban environment in dialogue with Malaysian academics Prof Andy Chan and Dr Ahmad Ismail. They will discuss the sources and dynamics of these pollutions, the possible solutions and the means needed to achieve them.

Youtube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5d2JpPTFP5I

In Conversation With Shih Li-Kow: A Malaysian Book, A Success in France
Speakers: SHIH-LI KOW 

23 September  2019

A Malaysian writing sensation! Her novel “The Sum of Our Follies” has won a top French literary award in 2018. The prize is called the "Prix du Premier Roman étranger"("First Novel Award, in the foreign category"). Shih-Li Kow came to light with her first book of short stories, “Ripples and other stories”, in 2009, which was immediately shortlisted for the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award.

A writer, literary translator and publisher. He has been living in Asia for the past 15 years and made Malaysia home 10 years ago. He founded and curates Lettres de Malaisie, a French-language webzine dedicated to literature from and about Malaysia. In 2015 he launched Editions Jentayu, a publishing venture focusing on pan-Asian literature and literary translation. Its main publication is the eponymous Jentayu review, a biannual literary journal dedicated to writings from Asia translated into French.

The Problem of Rainforest and Elephant Conservation
A comparative French-Malaysian look

22 July  2019

Central Africa and South Eastern Asia have experienced considerable deforestation rates following road, plantation and infrastructure developments, often at the expense of natural ecosystems, along with rainfall deficit and temperature increase. By 2020, it will be time to re-evaluate and decide how we can find an acceptable balance between sustainable development and conservation of natural ecosystems. During the talk Professor Pierre-Michel Forget will share his thoughts as a tropical ecologist who studied a natural forest during the last 35 years; Dr. Ee Phin Wong will present the conservation challenges of Asian elephants in human-managed landscapes. They both observed the consequences of conflict between humans and wildlife, forest degradation and +1°C temperature increase across the planet. Ecologists, environmentalists and politics have no other option than to struggle, interact and find a solution to protect forest cover and save biodiversity, the most difficult equation in order to mitigate global warming below 1.5°C.

On Pencak Silat Martial Art in Malaysia Society
A French Anthropologist view
By Gabriel Facal, Anthropologist

24 June 2019

In Malaysia, pencak silat is a martial initiation that counts thousands of schools, as well as regional associations and a national federation. In many villages and urban neighborhoods, initiation groups are at the core of the sociocultural life. They gather the local communities during collective rituals, prepare the young men and women for their mundane existence and their afterlife, and convey a particular ethos to the initiates. Moreover, the schools are connected to political and religious issues. Apart from the cosmologies, techniques, rituals and modes of transmission, we will describe the pencak silat practice groups’ position towards state nationalism, regional identities’ tensions as well as political evolutions since the 2000s.

Palm Oil: A French Economist’s View
In conversation with Dr Jean-Marc RODA

Journalist/moderator: Julian Ng

13 May 2019

This talk will explore the underlying economic questions in the discussions on palm oil. It will aim at giving a broader picture to answer the questions raised by the development of palm oil production, which has become a key commodity for Malaysia’s economy, a trend powered by the increasing consumption of vegetable oils globally. Who produces palm oil; where and how is it produced? What is the economic and social impact of oil palm cultivation in Malaysia? What is ‘sustainable’ palm oil?

Youtube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YNEEFvUYGy4

Defending Women’s Rights: Today and Tomorrow
By Anne-Cecile MAILFERT,
Rozana ISA    
Moderator: Freda Liu (BFM)

18 March 2019

This month we will have the pleasure of hosting a discussion on the issue of women's rights between Rozana Isa, executive director of Sister in Islam forum, and Anne-Cécile Mailfert, founder of the French foundation "Fondation des femmes". This French Talk will be moderated by Freda Liu, Producer/Presenter for the Enterprise show which airs on BFM. The speakers, both experienced activists, will share their experiences in advocating women's rights in Malaysia and France and reflect on the way ahead for us: what methods can be used most effectively to advocate women's rights today? In the light of the recent #metoo movement and its ripples worldwide, to what extent are women's rights to be understood universally or adapted to specific cultural contexts? How much progress still needs to be done to ensure equal rights between men and women ?

Youtube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pLHUuzl4SU8

Malaysian Gastronomy: Past, Present and Future.  
By Eric Olmedo - Social Anthropologist - The National University of Malaysia

18 February 2019

A rapid survey of the world restaurant scene shows that there is little presence of Malaysian “gastronomic” restaurants all over the globe. One can be tempted to ponder on the reasons behind such a fact, which implicitly validates the assumption that possessing gastronomy matters. The social functions of gastronomy vary from one country to another: it may serve as tourism pulling factor - as demonstrated by the rise of the culinary tourism phenomenon; or being politically instrumental as a form of soft power in the context of international relations. In Malaysia, gastronomy is often correlated with the quest for a national identity, as well as with a process of cultural decolonization. Literature shows that the term “gastronomy” carries different meanings and may blur the boundaries with competing concepts such as “cuisine” or “fine dining”, with or without nationalistic feature. In this presentation, I wish to segregate the concept of gastronomy from the one of national cuisine. I will also argue that being endowed with a high cuisine produces symbolic capital that may give Malaysia soft power in the realm of international politics. Finally, I will suggest that Malaysian gastronomy can be “invented” in the sociological acceptance of the term, but not without prior in-depth historical and anthropological investigation. I will take the opportunity to dwell a bit in the history of food both in Malaysia and France, using comparative analysis with the French experience. We shall finish our conference with the proposal of a methodology to enable the process of “gastronomisation” for Malaysia.

Youtube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3UjKvNJERLE

Is there a Malaysian way of thinking Islam?
By Dr. Mohd. Azam Mohd. Adil, Deputy CEO of the International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies (IAIS) Malaysia, and Dr. David Delfolie,  co-director of Institut Pondok Perancis (Kuala Lumpur). Moderator Zakiah Koya (The Star journalist). 

14 January 2019

This talk will explore the question of whether there is a specifically Malaysian way of thinking Islam. It will bethe first of a series of discussions on Islam, which will be programmed later in 2019. These discussions will aim to allow for an exchange of views and experiences between France in Malaysia on religion and the place it occupies in our societies. Following the discussion between the two speakers, there will be a Q&A sessi


What plants talk about 
by Prof. Soizic Prado -French Chemist of Natural Products and professor at the French National Museum of Natural History.

3 December 2018

Plants are actively communicating and interacting with each other for instance to warn specific neighbors of possible incoming stress.
Plants also harbor a huge diversity of microorganisms with which they communicate.
These plant -plant or plant-microbes communications are mediated by the production of various small signals either volatiles or diffusible molecules which constitute thus a real language. All these molecular dialogues are dynamics and do strongly impact the plant fitness.
Isolation and structure identification of these compounds as well as their mechanism of action constitute a real challenge for Scientifics.
Indeed, beyond the ecological interests, deciphering this communication could have important impact on various sectors such as agronomics.
What are these chemical signals? Where and when are they produced? Do all plants emit such chemicals? And what happens to other plants and microorganism when they “detect” such compounds?

Youtube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cW2QBamSN0M

On Globalisation and Cultural Identities.
By world renowned French novelist, Jean-Christophe Rufin. Moderator: Ahmad Fuad Ramat (BFM Radio)

19 November 2018

This November, we have the pleasure to welcome the world renowned French novelist, Jean-Christophe Rufin. Historian, writer and former French Ambassador to Senegal, Rufin is also the co-founder of NGO Action Against Hunger and one of the pioneers of Doctors Without Borders. 
Rufin’s fiction includes the Prix Goncourt-award winning The Abyssinian (1997) and Brazil Red (2001).  We live in an age of contradictions: greater communication and interconnections are leading to more intense calls for cultures to be defended from 'Others’.
With so much of the world levelled to become similar, how do we regard 'difference' and 'uniqueness' in ways that do not fall into the trappings of reactionary politics? What will happen to 'the Nation’?
J-C Rufin will be discussing his views on Globalisation and Cultural Identities with Ahmad Fuad Ramat, Lecturer at the School of Media, Languages and Cultures at The University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus and co-host of the BFM radio show “Night School”.

Youtube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HQSnIOu8awg

From Paris to Setiu
by Dr. Jarina Mohd Jani (PhD), Head of Setiu Wetlands Field Research Station, Universiti Malaysia Terengganu 

22 October  2018


A talk about understanding the reality of climate change among coastal fishers by Dr. Jarina Mohd Jani (PhD), Head of Setiu Wetlands Field Research Station, Universiti Malaysia Terengganu 

Youtube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dT8eG6_Xwiw

Smart Cities

18 September  2018

Maimunah JAFFAR Head Department Planning & Compliance (Sustainability and Smart City) at Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA) – Malaysia

Dr.-Ing. Sian Lun LAU Head of Department/Assoc. Professor at the Department of Computing and Information Systems, Faculty of Science and Technology, Sunway University – Malaysia

Sandrine MATHON in charge of data uses in the IT department in Toulouse Métropole – France

Gilles GESQUIÈRE Scientific leader of LabEx IMU (Intelligence of Urban World) – France

Moderator: Melisa Melina IDRIS Presenter & Executive Producer of The Morning Run at BFM89.9 - The Business Station 

Youtube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NHfEYiUtpko