BANGI: When he was a teenager, Mohd Ikhwan Iskandar would spend his nights racing bikes on the highways and his days loitering in shopping malls.
Now 23, he is a new man of sorts especially after signing up for Kem Perkasa, an intervention programme for the so-called Mat Rempit.
“I wanted to change and become a better person,” he said in an interview at the camp’s “graduation ceremony” at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) here yesterday.
He said the intervention programme was “life-changing” as he made new friends, learnt vocational skills and gained an insight into his own character.
“Now I am working on an offshore rig. My parents used to tell me don’t just sit at home, go study or get a job. Now I can support them and they’re very happy,” he said.
Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor was present yesterday at the camp organised by Permata, an initiative on early child care, and UKM’s Centre for Youth Empowerment, assisted by the Youth and Sports Ministry.
Rosmah, who heads Permata, also launched camp coordinator Dr Rozmi Ismail’s book on Rempit di Malaysia.
In her speech, Rosmah said she was impressed by the success stories of the participants.
“The ‘alumni’ of Kem Perkasa had gone on to become fitness instructors, chefs and managers of entertainment centres,” she said.
“Some of them have even opened their own businesses. Even if it is on a small scale, what’s important is that they turned over a new leaf.”
Prof Dr Samsudin A. Rahim, who is the head of the empowerment centre, said the camp gave youths a chance to try new things.
During the six weeks, participants attended modules on self-empowerment, self-development where they were taught teamwork, and vocational courses.
“They would attend recreational activities such as jungle trekking. We usually choose children from low-income families. All costs such as food are borne by Permata,” he said.