By A. Jeyaraj
Association for Community and Dialogue and CSO SDG Alliance Malaysia jointly organised a talk cum discussion at Syeun Hotel on “Leaving no one behind” by Professor Datuk Dr Denison Jayasooria, Principal Research Fellow UKM.
The talk was part of a roadshow to explain Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Shared Prosperity Vision 2030 to the public. Their aim is to get NGOs and Residents Associations (RAs) to go to grassroots to strengthen community participation in implementing the policy.
He added that SDG is a good policy document and has 17 goals including No Poverty, Zero Hunger, Good Health and Well-Being, Quality Education, Gender Equality and others. To put the policy into practice and for people to enjoy the benefits, NGOs and RAs should play a major role.
The UN disputed the poverty figures released by Malaysia which stated that its poverty figu res were down to 0.4% in 2016 when compared to 49% in 1970. The UN stated that realistic poverty rate in Malaysia is from 16% to 20%. Nearly three in 10 Malaysians feel that they do not have enough money to buy food, said the World Bank’s Malaysia Economic Monitor – Making Ends Meet report released on December 9, 2019. Malaysia has a long way to go to achieve these goals. The document focuses not just on development concerns but also human rights and environment and partnership with Public, Private Sector and Civil Society.
There are specific targets on inequality and to empower and promote the social, economic and political inclusion of all irrespective of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion or economic or other status. It ensures equal opportunities and reduces inequalities of outcome including eliminating discriminatory laws, policies and practices, promoting appropriate legislation, policies and actions in this regard.
The main guiding principles are to have a multidimensional approach with the emphasis to be placed on youth, the one major group that is often neglected especially from among the B40 communities. Youth are a potential for good or evil.
Efforts to be made to ensure marginalised groups are involved. Nine target groups have been identified namely B40, poor and economically vulnerable; communities in transition; indigenous community, Bumiputera in Sabah and Sarawak; people with disabilities, youth, women, children and senior citizens.
Social workers have an important role to address these concerns by working with youths, their families and local communities in finding effective solutions. Social workers require competencies in undertaking neighbourhood and community mapping exercise. Empower local youth groups to self-organise and find local solutions.
Denison said that there are some 500,000 unemployed and under-employed youths. This would lead to social ills among youths and affect the country. Address youth unemployment and train them for self-employment. This problem needs to be solved immediately.
UN and the Malaysian Government have prepared the policy documents. From these documents Action and Execution Plans must be prepared and qualified individuals should be identified and appointed to carry them out within a specified period. Until then these policies would only remain as policies.
Hopefully we can expect an improvement in the quality of life for all Malaysians by 2030.