19TH & 20TH January 2004
Pan Pacific Kuala Lumpur

Attended by YA Marisha & Sarah

 Report by YA Sarah: 

“Children, the voices of tomorrow”- this is no longer an alien phrase in this modernized era. Yet, though many of us are very much aware of the importance of the young generation, sometimes we ourselves get too caught up in our own worlds, that we ignore what is truly essential for the growth of all children on this earth, their rights. 

With reference to the adoption of the Convention of the Rights of the Child by the United Nations on the 20th of November 1989, SUHAKAM (Malaysia’s Human Rights Ministry) had took the lead of reflecting upon the current implementation in Malaysia by organizing a roundtable discussion amongst relevant participants. As mentioned in the opening remarks of the function: “In, Malaysia the children are fortunate not to have been victims of war and armed conflicts. Nonetheless, there are other challenges facing us- in terms of survival, protection, education and development.” 

Therefore, the roundtable discussion at the Pan Pacific Hotel KL dated 19th - 20th January was aimed at strengthening and addressing issues pertaining to children’s rights in Malaysia. Roping in government officials, lawyers, doctors, human rights organizations and a few youth representatives, we were firstly briefed about the current circumstances, what with the recent The World Declaration, and as well the National Plan of Action 2001-2020 set out, through comparative studies. 

Next, through midday we were carefully divided into groups of six where each had different topics for discussion at the roundtable. I, for one was allocated into the Protection group where I had the pleasure of debating about my own rights with respected representatives from the Social Welfare Dept., SCAN Team, JPN, Yayasan Kajian dan Pembangunan Masyarakat, Maktab Polis, Protect and Save the Children (PSC) and many more. Among the issues we were assigned to discuss were adoption, preservation of identity, protection from abuse and neglect, protection for children without families and rehabilitative care. Guided through the articles for discussion by our moderator, we reflected upon existing legislations, shared our views, and came up with recommendations. It was definitely a great experience discovering the views of professionals who at the same time introduced present laws related to the issue, and having my perspectives heard and noted. 

As the day came towards an end, we wrapped up and I, being the presenter for the next day had to stay back a little while to double check with the repertoire and chairman. I was to come up with a presentation the next day, concluding all points discussed.         

On the 20th, we started early in the morning and had the first two groups to present their issues. It was certainly mind-boggling to hear some very sad situations in Malaysia, which I never took the time to think about, like indigenous children and their future adaptation. Soon, it was my turn. I had my power point presentation projected and explained the issues we discussed. It was fantastic, being the first youth to present in the function about serious issues, and knowing that I played a role in making a better tomorrow for all children. 

            Group after group, questions after questions, the event ended with conclusions of all the recommendations to be sent to the ministry for serious evaluation. All in all, I had a fun and learning experience and had gained new friendships with the adults at the same time. Without doubt, this function had brought me to view things very differently. I am determined to continue to play my part for the growth and development of us children.