Minister terminates child activist Syed Azmi's role in National Welfare Foundation, but seeks advisory service

Yiswaree Palansamy
Prominent child activist Syed Azmi Alhabshi’s role at the National Welfare Foundation (YKN) has been terminated. — Picture by Choo Choy May

KUALA LUMPUR, March 27 — Newly minted Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Rina Harun has terminated the service of prominent child activist Syed Azmi Alhabshi from the National Welfare Foundation (YKN), void of details for the move.

A letter was sent to Syed Azmi signed by Rina, thanking him for his service and notifying him of the suspension effective yesterday.

Syed Azmi confirmed the authenticity of the letter to Malay Mail.

However, Malay Mail was made to understand that Rina's aide has personally requested Syed Azmi's help this morning, on ways to manage the homeless during the Covid-19 spread.

“The truth is this. I am humbled and grateful that my views are of interest to the government. But I do hope that the views of other board members and the chief executive who were all terminated would be taken into account as well.

“They have to call everyone and not just me as we are a team,” he told Malay Mail when contacted.

Syed Azmi said that Rina's office has also already agreed to his request to allow him to help YKN, and its frontliners until the Covid-19 outbreak in contained.

“There are two things. First, they agreed to my request to help YKN until Covid-19 is contained, and the second one is to advise the ministry on ways to manage the homeless during this outbreak.

“They acknowledged that someone from the ministry should have called to inform me about the terminations, instead of just finding it out from the board members' Whatsapp group,” he added.

Syed Azmi had earlier posted on his Facebook, pleading that he be allowed to help, as there was much work to be done.

He said that while he accepted his termination as it was not a personal move by the minister, he pleaded that he be allowed to serve until the Covid-19 battle ends.

“I also understand the social media users' perspective, and though many hope that YB would take me back, I feel that the suggestion is not that appropriate, and I hope we can progress together in helping the people, separately.

“However, with regards to YKN, I truly hope that you would be able to give me leeway to work under the YKN umbrella, until the Covid-19 season ends,” Syed Azmi wrote in a open letter posted on his Facebook.

Rina's performance as the new Women, Family and Community Development Minister came under the spotlight after her ministry suspended the 24-hour Talian Kasih hotline, along with other non-essential government services during the movement control order (MCO), until March 31.

On March 18 however, she announced that the hotline will no longer be suspended after the planned move drew criticism from fellow lawmakers from both sides of the political divide.

Women’s rights groups had also expressed their concerns over the appointment of Rina and PAS' Datuk Siti Zailah Mohd Yusoff as the new minister and deputy minister of women, family and community development, mainly because their track record do not inspire confidence.

Critics had previously pointed out that Rina did not contribute much when she was the rural development minister during the Pakatan Harapan (PH) administration.

Meanwhile Siti Zailah was criticised for her infamous statement in 2013, where she had suggested a female dress code to prevent indecent dressing in public. She reportedly said such a move would also curb rising levels of sex crimes.

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