SHAH ALAM: Malaysians may live in relatively peaceful conditions, unlike the Iraqis who are now suffering from the horrendous aftermath of war, or other communities throughout the world who are stricken by ethnic strife or natural disasters.
But Malaysia too has its own share of social problems, which are reflected in the rising rate of incest cases, violence against women in broad daylight, gang-rape, highway bullies, and brutal burglaries, said Datin Dr Jamilah Ariffin, professor of Sociology of Development at Universiti Teknologi Malaysia.
“These problems serve to instil a sense of fear and insecurity in us and to confirm that our homes, and within it our children and loved ones, may not be safe,” she said.
In this present environment, most of us need back-up support of resilient families and caring communities, Jamilah said.
“But community care and sympathy seem to be disintegrating. Support systems for the vulnerable are weak, and the relevant government ministries have not yet devised effective community-based programmes to combat these social ills.”
Something has to be done, she stressed, and to this end, the Asia-Pacific Forum on Families is organising a conference that will provide an opportunity for everyone, from academicians to government officials, and NGOs to concerned citizens to discuss strategies to address the problems.
The conference entitled Facing Up to Global Challenges: Building Resilient Families and Caring Communities in a Troubled World is being organised by the Asia-Pacific Forum on Families Malaysia (APFAM) together with the Family Development Foundation of Johor, Institute Sultan Iskandar, APFAM International, and Australia’s La Trobe University’s School of Social Work and Social Policy and will be held from June 23 to 26.
“We have invited academic experts who will present professional studied viewpoints, and we will merge these academic ideas with insights from concerned citizens as well as reputable NGO representatives who have sound practical experience at ground level,” said Jamilah who is the chairman of the organising committee and also president of APFAM International.
The conference will focus on the building of caring communities, which Jamilah defined as having a “we” feeling and is built on a moral culture.
“A caring community is where there is a ‘we’ feeling and it is built on a moral culture that emphasises the sense of helping one another. In a caring community, you help one another based on volunteerism. It is not based on wanting money or wanting payment,” she said.
“We will talk about how we can build caring communities, and define the roles that the state and schools can play in the process. We will also discuss the role of youths and how to encourage volunteerism in a work-focused society.”
During the conference, participants will be able to voice their opinions and be part of a concerted effort to help formulate policies and programmes meant for the well-being of Malaysian families and the community, Jamilah said.
“At the very least, it will be a definite step towards helping in the attainment of a caring society, which is one of the objectives of Vision 2020.”
For more information on the conference, call Peggy Loh or Suhaina at 07-2269524 or e-mail to: email@example.com .