Sunday, May 26

Fatimah impressed by Finland’s transformation


Fatimah (second left) meeting Matilla (second right) and officers of Finnish Ministry of Social Affairs and Health in Helsinki.

KUCHING: Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Development Minister Dato Sri Fatimah Abdullah aspires to see the wellbeing of Sarawakians well taken care of like what citizens of Finland experience.

Fatimah, who was in Helsinki recently for an official duty, only has wonderful things to say about Finland.

“Finland has just celebrated its 100 years of independence and transformation from a poor state into the No. 1 happiest state in the world. Finland’s focus on free and mandatory education for all, especially at early childhood level, has proven success in the transformation journey,” she said through an email delivered to The Borneo Post yesterday.

“Emphasis is always given to issues on access, equity and quality of childhood education. In Finland, all children have a right to quality education,” she added.

“The municipalities’ autonomy in managing their social affairs and health matters at the local level strengthens the government’s effort in providing the best services to her people. The support system developed by the municipalities is further enhanced through collaborative efforts with the private sector, NGOs, families and individuals,” she said.

Fatimah also observed that shelters and homes for the aged and elderly groups, the homeless, including victims of domestic and sexual violence are provided to ensure the wellbeing of the people are always taken care of.

Finland is also moving forward with its digital technology reforms and one of its upfront efforts is to integrate all municipalities’ digital systems, she said.

Finland’s Family Programmes Action Plan 2018 to 2021 emphasises on addressing issues on domestic violence, sexual harassment, rape, forced marriage, crimes committed in the name of ‘honour’, among others.

The Action Plan stresses on coordinating body collaborations, and it also highlights the importance of quality education by having well qualified teachers; and development of professionals through continuous trainings.

In Finland, teaching is a high ranking profession in the like of doctors, she said.

Fatimah also took time to pay courtesy call on Finland Minister of Social Affairs and Health Piinkko Mattila at her office in Helsinki. On record, Fatimah is the first Malaysian minister to visit Matilla.

She then visited Aseman Lapset, an NGO funded by the National Government, the municipalities and caring communities, that provides care to youths aged 13 to 17 years and promotes young people’s healthy growth and prevents marginalisation, violence, crime and substance abuse.

This body, founded in 1990, conducts safe contact programmes with the youths from different social groups, ethnics and minorities through their Walkers House/Cafe stations and Walkers-on-Wheels for youth, Street Meditation, and the Friends Programs in their outreaching efforts to youth.

Stations are located at places where youth are predominantly present, with rules which are not patronising but to be strictly adhered to. The key attraction to these stations is the ‘affinity’ connection with the leaders and staff of the centre. The stations are good ‘hang-out’ places for youths who resolute for company, friends, affection and comradeship.

“Personalised and effective interactions with the youths are further supported with the presence of families, qualified and experienced individuals and personalities, NGOs, volunteers, social workers, and authorities such as the Police. Utmost attraction for volunteering in this organisation is giving time to the young group,” Fatimah reported.

Her visit would not be completed without meeting up with staff of the Malaysian Embassy in Helsinki.

At the embassy located at the WTC Building, members of the Sarawak entourage were welcomed by the representative from Malaysian Embassy to Finland, Secretary 1 Norhalilah Jalil.