By Shahfizal Musa
Pix by Ismail Ibrahim
KUALA LUMPUR, 9 Dec. 2011- Youth and children from poor families such as from the Hardcore Poor Housing Scheme (PPRT) flats should be given a helping hand to realize their potential as they live in a very depressed environment.
Living in such circumstances had resulted in them being involved in undesirable activities, said Vice Chancellor of the National University of Malaysia (UKM), Prof Tan Sri Dato’ Wira Dr Sharifah Hapsah Syed Hasan Shahabudin .
She was speaking at the Signing of Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) Ceremony between UKM and The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM) here today.
Prof Sharifah Hapsah signed for UKM and Chairman of SUHAKAM, Tan Sri Hasmy Agam signed for the Commission. The MOU is to pave the way for research on human rights issues and various awareness programmes.
The PPRT is a government housing initiatives to provide accommodation for the hard-core poor in the country. The flats are, however, too small to provide comfortable living to its occupants.
Prof Sharifah Hapsah said there are many talented youths living there but unfortunately were deprived access to opportunities because of their underprivileged circumstances.
The flats lacked proper places for the youth to study and to undertake healthy leisure activities. So they engaged in undesirable activities like ‘Merempit’ motorcycle racing on public roadsand end up on the wrong side of the law.
When this happened we are quick to judge them and label them as delinquents for infringing on our rights. But the youths to have rights to opportunities like other privileged youths. Thus they become victims of their situation, Prof Sharifah Hapsah said.
It is our duty, she said, to empower them with the opportunity to express their creativity and talents in a productive manner.
Some of their talents can be turned into income generating opportunities that can give them independence.
Whatever trouble that they got themselves into is actually a manifestation of a bigger problem that must be tackled, she said.
Some of the youth from PPRT are intellectually capable while those not academically inclined, have other talents which can be guided and nurtured to benefit society.
The problems of youth in PPRT may not constitute a gross violation of human rights, but by giving them a helping hand it will ensure that their rights to fulfilling their potentialsare protected.
We must do everything that we can to ensure their circumstances will not hinder them from enjoying the opportunities available, Prof Sharifah Hapsah said.
Tan Sri Hasmy said human rights cover a wide spectrum of area including even the rights before a person is born or after his death.
He said though the level of awareness ofhuman rights has increased in the country, it was still below the satisfactory level. He suggested programmes be carried out to increase awareness of human rights not only among students but also among the academics.
Academics can be effective ambassadors in nurturing human rights consciousness among students, he said.
Present at the ceremony was Prof Dr Aishah Bidin, Dean of Law Faculty UKM and Emeritus Prof Datuk Dr Mahmood Zuhdi Hj Abdul Majid, a Commissioner of SUHAKAM.