PETALING JAYA, Nov 14— For World Children’s Day this November 20, around 20 children from across all backgrounds will “take over” Malaysian media in an attempt to get the country to listen to them.
As part of a global movement, the children will appear in programmes by 10 major media partners to speak on issues dear to them — from hosting a TV show, appearing in radio public service announcements, writing a newspaper column, or managing social media accounts.
“When given the opportunity, children in Malaysia show us that they are clear about the society they want to see and build in the future — quality education, no violence solidarity and kindness,” said Marianne Clark-Hattingh, a representative from organiser the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef).
“Throughout the day on November 20, whenever you tune in to your radio or TV, go online, or read a newspaper, you will see or hear a child sending this message of hope.”
Non-profit group for arts Kakiseni serves as the partner for this programme, themed #ForEveryChild.
“Let’s open avenues in society where young people are included and accountable. When they are taught to value accountability, you’ll find that children will do their best to live up to it,” said Kakiseni’s president Low Ngai Yuen.
Several of the participants told the media today their concerns as children in Malaysia, with the topic of freedom, and equal rights between girls and boys mentioned often.
“People say girls should only do household chores, they cannot go out, but boys can do whatever they want. Girls should also be allowed freedom,” said Yusra, 16, a refugee from Somalia.
“Let your children do things to their fullest potential. If they have passion [in something], let them pursue it,” added Heidi, 12, who related that one of her friends could not find support to continue her interest in arts.
“I want adults to listen to the children. An adult’s perspective may differ from a child’s,” said Muhammad, 17, an undocumented teenager, who had earlier spoke about the importance of registration among children to allow them access to public education.
“Freedom is important. We have our goals ... we can have many [different] paths to success,” added Yu Xuan, 13.
The World Children’s Day was established by the UN General Assembly on November 20, 1989, to mark the day it adopted the Declaration of the Rights of Child in 1959 and Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in 1989.
Malaysia ratified the CRC on 1995 with several reservations. Putrajaya has since lifted some of them, but not those on, among others, non-discrimination, and the freedom of thought, conscience and religion, claiming they do “not conform with the Constitution, national laws and national policies of the Government of Malaysia, including the Shariah law.”