SUHAKAM Round Table Discussion On The
Convention of the Rights of the Child (CRC)

19TH & 20TH January 2004
Attended by YA Marisha & Sarah

Report by YA Marisha (January 2004) 

 From the 19th till the 20th of January, SUHAKAM organized a round table discussion regarding the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The conference was held at Pan pacific hotel in Kuala Lumpur from 8 in the morning till 5 in the evening. Sarah and I represented the Young Achievers’ Club in this conference. There were about 120 people who attended this conference from different divisions of the government. Out of the 120 people, only 5 of them were child representatives. The objective of bringing children into an adult-based conference was to hear out their views on their rights. After all it is the convention on the rights of the CHILD, not the adult. 

            The opening ceremony was attended by the secretariat of the Ministry of National Unity and Social Development, Mrs. Gaye Philips (UNICEF representative), Dato’ Ranita Mohd Hussein (Co-Chairperson SUHAKAM) and all participants of the round table discussions. Speeches were made by the secretary of the Ministry of National Unity and Social Development, Mrs. Gaye Philips, and Dato’ Ranita. After two very enlightening speeches, all guest adjourned to the hallway for a light snack. 

Everybody were separated into their respective discussion groups. Altogether, there were 6 groups to discuss on the different parts of the CRC. The groups included:

·        Survival

·        Development

·        Protection

·        Participation

·        Child Act 2001; other domestic Laws and CRC inputs

·        Criminal Justice System and procedures relating to children 

Each group were to discuss their designated topics and moderated by a SUHAKAM personnel. About 13 people were in one group at one time. Groups were given two hours to discuss, with an hour for lunch break and then followed by another two hours of discussions. These discussions had to be turned into a presentation that would be presented the next day. In order to document all issues raised, all round table discussions were taped and will be kept for further research. 

            By the end of the day, each group assigned a presenter and had to create a presentation for the following day. Out of the 6 groups, two groups were being represented by children, which were, group 3, Protection and group 4, Participation.      

The 20th of January was the presentation day and the handing over of all documents to the Chairperson of SUHAKAM. Each group took turns presenting their groups discussion matters, which were followed by a question and answer session. Many interesting topics were raised that brought the floor alive. Members on the floor had many questions and comments. Members of the floor commented that they were refreshed and delighted to see children putting on a good show. Copies of presentations were available for everybody and within 40 minutes, the report of recommendations was out. This copy of recommendations would be sent to the respective ministries for further changes. A short press conference was held later on. 

            At about 4 pm, the conference ended. Personally, I think it was a great opportunity and a stable platform to voice out opinions and thoughts. It was really good that the adults took the time to listen and accept our views and furthermore allowed us to represent our respective groups. There should be more adults in the community should have a mentality like SUHAKAM that believes in the opinions and voices of children.