INDIVIDUAL AWARD – Jerald Joseph
For the last 20 years, Jerald Joseph has been a trainer in the field of human rights, both locally and internationally. He has been focusing on human rights issues specifically on the rights of indigenous peoples and advocacy work to eliminate racial discrimination in Malaysia since the mid-1990s.
He has vast knowledge in working with grassroots community, by using community organizing principles in advocating for human rights empowerment.
His work to support and empower indigenous peoples’ organization has led to positive changes as more indigenous leaders are collectively standing up against all forms of discrimination and violations affecting their community.
Apart from his passion for the Indigenous community, he has been continuously working on human rights issues especially Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ESCR) and Human Rights Based Approach in Development (HRBA) for the last 10 years.
Pioneering the programme of non-discrimination, his success was in the visits by the UN Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance and the UN Independent Expert on Minority Issues, to Malaysia.
Despite being confronted by various challenges, he continues to uphold the rights of marginalized groups in Malaysia without fear or favour.
His passion and dedication to human rights literacy and development in Malaysia is indeed a contribution that should not be denied.
ORGANISATION AWARD – Perak Society for the Promotion of Mental Health
Pioneered by Tan Sri Dato’ Seri M Mahadevan, the Perak Society for the Promotion of Mental Health was established in October 1967. It was initially a pilot project for the rehabilitation of emotionally disturbed and medically cured female mental patients. A day care centre for women was set up in Clarke Street, Ipoh where female patients with psychiatric disorders were brought from Hospital Bahagia, Ulu Kinta.
Actively involved in the promotion of mental health in the local community as well as at the national and international level, this organisation with the aim of breaking down public prejudice against mentally cured patients, has embarked on a vigorous public awareness programme to educate the public on the need for a healthy mental lifestyle since 1994. Although winning the people’s minds is still a greater challenge, it has become its fervent hope to eradicate public stigma towards mental illness and persons with mental health challenges.
Apart from providing counselling sessions and rehabilitation programmes, this organisation has created a conducive environment for patients to gain the skill and confidence to re-assimilate into society. The organisation also assists in contacting local businesses to offer employment opportunities for patients who show interest in working and improving their mental condition.
Over the past 48 years since its establishment, hundreds of women in Malaysia have benefited from the rehabilitation treatment and programmes provided by this organisation. The organisation has been a beacon of hope for psycho socially disabled women to realise their dreams of a home, employment and life in the community.
PRINT MEDIA AWARD – Arulldas Sinnappan
A journalist with the Malay Mail, Arulldas Sinnappan, began his career in journalism in 1980. For the past 35 years, he has written numerous articles on criminal cases and human rights violation faced by migrants for various local newspapers.
Since 2014, he has been extensively highlighting news related to the deaths of migrants through his investigative reports by selflessly working to expose human trafficking syndicates in Malaysia.
His articles – from ‘Gruesome Myanmar Communal Murders Grip Penang’ to ’24 Die in Deadly Crossings’ to ‘Doesn’t Anybody Watch the Border Security Fence’- recount the journey of survivors of human trafficking rings, and their accounts of clandestine ‘death camps’ erected within the Malaysian-Thai borders. His bold attempts through the articles ‘Migrant Prison Camp Uncovered’ and ‘Our Expose Sparks Search for Mass Graves’ led to the discovery of various shallow graves, which were later confirmed by the Government of Malaysia.
His investigative reports highlighting and confirming the threat of smuggling syndicates within Malaysian soil have thus raised strong sentiments among members of the public and the international communities against human trafficking.
MEDIA AWARD – Masjaliza Hamzah
Masjaliza Hamzah was a print journalist for 10 years before joining the non-profit civil society sector. She is currently a sub-editor for the English desk at Malaysiakini.com, an independent news portal.
Her journey in journalism has seen her embarking on pertinent issues ranging from women’s rights to development and social justices in which she covered issues such as the delay on the implementation of Domestic Violence Act 1994 and also the response by the Malaysian NGOs to the Fourth World Conference in Beijing, China in 1995.
She is a strong advocate for media freedom and has organised several forums and trainings on media freedom for journalists. She also led a project, ‘Watching the Watchdog’, which was a comprehensive analysis on media coverage during Malaysia’s 13th General Elections (GE13). As a result of this project, she testified in front of the expert panel at the People’s Tribunal, presenting original research on ‘Views from the Newsroom: In-depth Interviews with Malaysian Journalists on Issues Faced in GE13 Coverage’.
Besides her stint in journalism, Masjaliza is a vocal human rights activist, recognized both locally and internationally as an advocate for media freedom and women’s rights. As one of the pioneers of media activism in the country, she has continuously called on the Government to repeal the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984 since 1999.
Despite being confronted by numerous challenges, Masjaliza continues her tireless efforts in undertaking campaigns, research and projects on a wide range of human rights issues. She has never deterred in moving forward and voicing her opinions particularly in women’s rights.
GOVERNMENT AGENCY AWARD – The Fire and Rescue Department of Malaysia (Bomba)
The Fire and Rescue Department of Malaysia or popularly known as Bomba is mandated to provide effective and efficient fire prevention and fire-fighting services, enforcement of laws related to fire safety and fire-fighting as well as humanitarian services.
Under the ‘Beautiful Neighbourhood’ programme, Bomba has been implementing the ‘House Build’ project since 2012. Going beyond the call of its duties, this project is aimed at assisting disadvantaged families – single parents, persons with disabilities and underprivileged persons – to rebuild their houses that were destroyed in fire and also to rebuild dilapidated houses belonging to poverty-stricken families.
Between June 2012 and 2015, Bomba, through the harmonisation of teamwork and spirit of volunteerism, has successfully built 85 houses – burnt or dilapidated. Proud of its slogan ‘Fast and Friendly’, they managed to build the houses in just a short time with their own expert personnel and resources.
The strong dedication demonstrated by Bomba in fulfilling the fundamental right of less fortunate individuals and families to adequate housing has enabled these disadvantage groups to enjoy not just the right to proper and safe housing, but also the right to life as a whole.
SPECIAL AWARD – Nurul Eeman binti Haji Mansor
Seventeen year old Nurul Eeman binti Haji Mansor is a student from Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Taman Tun Dr Ismail (SMK TTDI).
She has been actively promoting the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) at various local and international platforms since the tender age of 14. Her active participation in the Commission’s CRC programmes started with a competition to design the CRC booklet in 2013.
Nurul Eeman designed the booklet on the Child Rights Convention which was published by the Commission as an educational material for school teachers and students. A copy of the booklet is currently being kept in the White House and Lincoln Library.
She has also been actively promoting the importance of children’s rights through various programmes involving indigenous children, members of public as well as local and foreign dignitaries.
She is an outstanding example of the Commission’s Human Rights Best Practices in Schools programme, or better known as ATHAM, which was introduced by the Commission in 2009.
Her commendable initiative in promoting children’s right should serve as an inspiration to children in the future.