Crucial to understand needs of young people — British High Commissioner

KOTA KINABALU: Mindful of the fact that youths play an important role in determining the future of a nation, not only has she made young people’s agenda an area of personal interest, but it was also part of British High Commissioner, Vicki Treadell’s strategy engagement here in Malaysia.

And one of the programmes that reflect the high commission’s commitment to this particular agenda is the organising and hosting of a filmmaking programme, featuring local youths presenting films focusing on issues that concern them and their community.

“They (the youths) will be the inheritors of the decisions that are made today by those currently in power, whether in organisations or the government. Hence, it is very important to understand what young people feel, what their ambitions are, where they want to go, what they want to achieve.

“Lights, Camera, Youth, Action, where three young people will be presenting their films and those films will contain themes, about issues, that are close to them, that matter to them, that concern them,” she said in a press conference at the Sabah Art Gallery here yesterday, where the films were being screened.

‘Lights, Camera, Youth, Action!’ was a programme celebrating proactive youth, community empowerment and local filmmaking, organised by the British High Commission as part of its youth engagement programme called the Successor Generation Initiative (SGI), which was launched earlier this year.

Three groups of community filmmakers from Sabah screened short films highlighting community issues and climate change concerns.

This set the scene for a dialogue where youth participants shared their views on the topics concerned, moderated by Adrian Lasimbang, an Orang Asal rights activist and renewable energy developer and practitioner.

Melissa Leong, festival director of the Borneo Eco Film Festival, (BEFF) also gave a short talk on community filmmaking.

The first film screened was ‘Mastal Arikik’, a film by the Wanita Pulau Omadal (WAPO), that tells a heart-warming tale of a young boy living on Omadal Island, who at a tender age is already helping to educate the island’s children by working as a teacher in a local primary school.

‘Kisah Budak Jalanan’ by the group Greens Semporna was filmed in Semporna, revealing the desperate circumstances faced by local stateless children who often have no opportunities to receive education, exist well below the poverty line, and turn to drugs from a very young age as a means of coping with their harsh realities.

The third film, ‘Climate Change – Do You Care?’ by the Green Voices of Borneo was recently screened at COP21 in Paris, about the issue from the perspective of communities in Sabah.

Meanwhile, the British High Commissioner is in Sabah as part of her state engagement programme where she visits different states in Malaysia to engage leaders from the state government as well as opposition party.

She also took the opportunity to meet representatives from the local NGOs, youth and women groups during these visits.

Treadell was appointed the British High Commissioner to Malaysia in October 2014.

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