PETALING JAYA - All that Mohd Nasarudin Mohd Yusof wanted to do after moving to The Hague, Netherlands, and joining the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) three years ago, was to make Malaysia proud of his service there.
Never did the 52-year-old retired Malaysian Armed Forces personnel dream that he would get a chance to fly the Jalur Gemilang high with a Nobel Peace Prize 2013 award for his work at the intergovernmental organisation that ensures member countries adhere to the Chemical Weapons Convention, which prohibits the use of chemical weapons and requires their destruction.
"When you work overseas, no matter how small it (your work) is, you are carrying your country's flag," said Nasarudin.
He hopes his team's win will spur young Malaysians to achieve the country's dream of winning the Nobel Prize in other cultural and/or scientific advances.
"I did not win the Nobel prize for individual achievement. I received it with my organisation, for the whole team's work," said the chemical weapons and munition specialist.
The Nobel Peace Prize to the OPCW consisted of a medal, a diploma and a cash prize of about 900,000 euro (S$1.49 million).
Nasarudin said it was difficult initially for him to decide to relocate to the Netherlands.
"Such opportunities only come once in a lifetime though, so I decided to grab it," said the retired lieutenant-colonel.
Malaysia's multicultural society makes it easy for Nasarudin to get acclimatised to the different cultures of the Dutch.
He said he also got help from other Malaysians - of all backgrounds - in The Hague, including a colleague from Malaysia who holds a Permanent Resident status in Britain.
"She had already surrendered her Malaysian citizenship, but I suppose it's true what they say - once a Malaysian always a Malaysian."
His experience abroad had also made him appreciate Malaysia more, said Nasarudin.
To those contemplating leaving Malaysia for work or studies, Nasarudin advises them to just go for it.
"It will not make you any less Malaysian. Good opportunities only come once in your lifetime, so don't waste the chance. That working experience will be valuable in life."
Nasarudin said the Merdeka celebrations this year would be poignant for the Malaysian community in the Netherlands as the Malaysian spirit there had grown stronger after the MH17 tragedy.
He hopes all Malaysians can learn from this tragedy and stay united from wherever they are.
For now, Nasarudin will continue to try and do Malaysia proud from afar.
"I cannot come back yet because there is no work in Malaysia for my specialisation.
"I can contribute more if I stay in The Hague although I really miss the Malaysian weather," he quipped.