KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 10 — In March this year, Amira Aisya Abdul Aziz unexpectedly won the Puteri Wangsa seat in Johor, becoming the state’s youngest lawmaker at 27.
Now, the Malaysian United Democratic Alliance (Muda) deputy president said her number one priority in the constituency is to build a strong support system for the education sector.
“Education was the actual call of my journey into politics, I wanted to create some changes in education hence I joined politics to be able to do that.
“So I wanted to do the same in Puteri Wangsa and the number one vision I had is to have a very strong support for the education fraternity here which includes teachers, parents and everyone who is involved in education at large,” Amira told Malay Mail in a recent interview.
In July this year, Amira held a citizens’ assembly for Puteri Wangsa residents — the first ever of such an event in Malaysia. She said residents told her then of their wish for an education hub in the area, whether a brick-and-mortar centre or community programmes and projects.
“We are looking at whether it’s possible to build an education hub at Puteri Wangsa to ensure that students regardless of which vernacular streams they are from, there is a place where they can gather and have programmes and projects together.
“At the same time we are launching our laptop for students going to university programme as well and we want to make sure that students who go to university have the support system they need,” said Amira.
The Muda co-founder also spoke passionately about how growing up in Kampung Melayu Majidee — an iconic Malay village located in the centre of state capital Johor Baru — had taught her that quality education plays an important role in breaking socio-economic inequality.
“I used to grow up in Kampung Melayu Majidee which is largely a B40 (bottom 40 per cent) community area. So when I was growing up many of my own childhood friends got into drugs, got pregnant early, and dropped out of school at an early age.
“These are all the effects of poverty and socio-economic inequality but what I realised is that if you are able to ensure when they enter their first job, they have dignified wage and dignified job prospects [you are able to keep them motivated in school].
“That’s why I have always believed that education is very important to make sure that people can break out of the cycle of poverty because I have seen that myself. And economics and education is a ‘chicken and egg’ issue, you give good education you help to boost economic, and with a good economy you are able to provide better education,” said Amira.
The co-founder of Muda also said that her second vision is to ensure a strong support system for small and medium enterprises (SMEs), micro-businesses, and vulnerable groups such as single mothers and entrenched workers during the pandemic time.
“We want to be able to provide a platform for them to live independently and not just depend on monthly assistance from the government.
“And we are looking at courses for single mothers to teach them about creating online businesses, the purpose is to make them more independent and ensure that the people of Puteri Wangsa are not dependent on government assistance,” she added.
Amira then told Malay Mail her third vision for Puteri Wangsa is to ensure a better living environment for the disabled (OKU in Malay) residing there, having raised her concerns about this at the state legislative assembly lately.
“I understand that this is not something that can be done only in Puteri Wangsa as it needs the state’s effort to ensure Johor becomes more OKU-friendly, and that doesn’t mean just adding two or three OKU parking lots.
“You have to ensure that they have mobility access, in a sense that if you want to provide public buses, are they accessible for OKUs?
“We also went to several schools where there are special needs student but the capacity of the classrooms is actually not enough for them to study comfortably. So these are things that I’m trying to push for in the state assembly so that Johoreans can enjoy all these things at large,” said Amira.