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In Malaysia, a local child council empowers young people through participation

© UNICEF Malaysia/2011
From left: State representative Nasir Hashim, newly appointed Petaling Jaya Child Council (PJCC) member Aishikin Aidura, UNICEF Representative in Malaysia Hans Olsen, Petaling Jaya Mayor Mohamad Roslan Sakiman, PJCC President Nur Emalina Bidari and councillors Wesley Jon Murang and Muhd Hisyammuddin Hosaini.

PETALING JAYA, Malaysia, 31 January 2011 – Children living in Petaling Jaya, near Malaysia's capital, Kuala Lumpur, are now represented in the City Council. The Petaling Jaya Child Council (PJCC) was launched on 15 January, enabling children from the community to voice their opinions and participate in local development.

A first in Malaysia, the council consists of 24 adolescent girls and boys from 14 to 18 years of age, each of whom represents a designated zone in the city. PJCC will serve as a link and a mediator between the City Council and Petaling Jaya’s population of some 240,000 children and young people.

“I hope more local councils will get children actively involved in community development, as it will benefit both the children and the community,” said UNICEF Representative in Malaysia and Special Representative to Brunei Darussalam Hans Olsen.

In support of the city’s initiative to empower its children, UNICEF has contributed nearly $20,000 to help set up a PJCC Child Resource Centre in the Petaling Jaya Community Library. The centre will be the base for the council and its activities. The funds will also be used to purchase children's books and learning aids on child rights at the library.

A safer place for children

The child councillors, who will serve two-year terms, are required to form a working group and propose activities to be implemented at the school, neighbourhood and citywide levels – in line with the City Council’s plan to declare Petaling Jaya a ‘child-friendly city’ by the end of 2011. To facilitate the councillors’ work, the City Council will give them access to its regular board meetings and its facilities, including meeting rooms.

Efforts to find suitable PJCC candidates began in 2009 with the selection of 60 children during a specially organized youth forum. The candidates participated in various workshops on leadership skills and self-empowerment, as well as attending meetings with UNICEF and non-governmental agencies such as the Selangor Community Support Network and Childline Malaysia.

“The group was set up to be a channel for children in Petaling Jaya to work with the City Council and other authorities,” said PJCC President Nur Emalina Bidari, 17, “to make Petaling Jaya a conducive, safer and liveable place for children.”



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