KUALA LUMPUR, April 24, 2015:

From matters of women’s rights, freedom of expression, rights of migrant workers, to the rights of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community, the Asean Peoples’ Forum 2015 provides the platform for all those facing human rights-related issues to convene and have their voices heard.

The four-day event, which began on Tuesday, has seen lawmakers from all over the Asean community taking part in discussions with those who normally do not have access to their country leaders.

From Malaysia alone, the participants have had the opportunity to voice their concerns to those capable of making a change in the country, such as the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Senator Datuk Paul Low Seng Kuan, Umno leader Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah, prominent lawyer and human rights advocate Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan, as well as Pulai Member of Parliament Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed, among others.

Over 1,400 participants took part in the forum, which also featured programmes such as the Asean Film Festival that highlights human rights issues and the plight faced by many of Asean members countries, raising awareness on the need for the government along with the people to start taking proactive measures and make the 10 countries a better place for all.

Nur Jazlan took part in the forum to learn more of the people’s concern and to listen to experiences of other Asean members countries, looking into the changes that the country can make.

“Especially in the environmental issue of the Don Sahong Dam being built in the Laos part of the Mekong River by a Malaysian company.

“We’ve realised the detrimental effect this project has on the environment,” said Nur Jazlan as he expressed his intention to take the matter up in the next parliamentary session this coming May.

Sarawak indigenous Siew Choon Siak, 51, came to the event to learn more of the rights that the natives have and to be involved in highlighting the concerns shared by them.

“I came with the rest from Joas (Jariangan Orang Asas SeMalaysia). This type of forum is really good, especially if whatever discussed here can lead to a change for all us.”

Sexuality Merdeka founder Pang Kee Teik was one of those who spoke at a workshop organised by the forum, touching on the issues of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex and Questioning (LGBTIQ).

“There are many kinds of people with many kinds of relationships and I hope that we are all allowed to participate in the creation of a place we call home.

“A lot of us have been targeted, discriminated and violated regularly just because of who we love and who we are. This event allow all of us from Asean countries to convene and share our problems as well as work, by joining hands, to find the solution on a more international level.”

The annual Asean level forum ended today with over 200 people carrying different banners that stated the human rights issues faced by each member countries, walking the Asean walk from Wisma MCA to Dang Wangi.

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