RYTHM Foundation conducts first symposium with Malaysian authorities, NGOs
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has created a global emergency, claiming hundreds of innocent lives, leaving many in dire economic straits, disrupting human life, public health, education, social and economic well-being to name a few.
To acknowledge and address the struggles resulting from the pandemic that has not yet run its course, as well as to identify approaches to moving forward, RYTHM Foundation held its first virtual Stakeholder Symposium with experts from various industries and community frontliners.
Themed “Addressing Community Needs in Malaysia during the Pandemic”, the panel of experts came together to explore ways to synergize, tap into each other’s strengths, and come up with a unified approach to tackling issues of interest.
RYTHM Foundation Chairperson Datin Sri Umayal Eswaran said the symposium is an important event for the Foundation as Malaysia is still dealing with Covid-19 cases .
“RYTHM Foundation has created this platform since we are deeply involved in the community here and we want to help chart a possible roadmap with other stakeholders, to address the needs of the community during this ongoing crisis,” she said in her opening remarks.
“While the pandemic has hit us right on our faces, I am glad we are here, geared up, with our thoughts and ideas coming together to raise our capabilities and ensure the steps taken to address the issues are systematic, dynamic, and effective,” she added.
Issues discussed included health-related challenges including mental health, sanitisation, disruption to education, as well as the livelihood of the community.
The panelists included Dr Siti Sara Yaacob from the Selangor state health department, PACOS Trust Founder and Executive Director Ms Anne Lasimbang, MyPJ Chairman Jeffrey Phang, and Persatuan Kebajikan Saudagar Perak (PKSP) Advisor and Team Head of Survey, Mobilisation, Special Projects and Logistics Hubert Thong Choong Khin.
Anne Lasimbang said addressing the needs of communities that have been heavily impacted by COVID-19 requires commitment from the government, business players, and NGOs.
“All three of these pillars can trigger a paradigm shift and create societal restructuring that we need during hard times like this,” Anne Lasimbang said.
Jeffrey Phang urged local councils and policymakers to take into account the importance of structuring people-friendly policies.
“These policies will be able to reflect the true meaning behind the #KitaJagaKita (we take care of each other) tagline in this pandemic situation especially towards those in need in Malaysia,” he said.
Meanwhile, senior psychologist from the National Autism Society of Malaysia (NASOM) Grace Liew said in order to ensure learning is not compromised for children with special needs, it is important to break down their learning goals so that it is easily achievable.
“However, the weight of conducting these lesson falls on the parents as the schools remain closed,” she noted.
In her closing remarks, Datin Sri Umayal said overcoming the challenges and issues that arise from the pandemic is the shared responsibility of the government, private sector, NGOs, and all citizens.
“It is also my hope that like-minded people and organisations like ours will work with each other to continue addressing community issues together. Through cohesive synergy we can achieve much more than all of us working in silos,” Datin Sri Umayal said.
The RYTHM Foundation team will draw up a summary of recommendations based on the discussions and input by the experts at the one-day symposium.
These recommendations will be shared with Malaysian policymakers with the hope that it would assist them in making informed decisions, in the best interest of the community.