The Prime Minister’s Secretary statement on Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor’s UNESCO award withdrawal:
1. On 8 September 2016, Irina Bokova in her capacity as Director General of UNESCO sent letters to Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Najib Tun Razak, his wife Datin Sri Rosmah Mansor and Foreign Minister Dato’ Sri Anifah Aman. The letters stated that Datin Sri Rosmah was to be given a special tribute award at an event co-hosted by UNESCO on 22 September 2016. This was in recognition of efforts undertaken by the Government of Malaysia to counter extremism through the educational system, and specifically the approach taken by PERMATA, founded in 2007 by Datin Seri Rosmah.
2. On 18 September 2016, Malaysia’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations received an email from Professor Tudor Parfitt, Chairman of the Academic Advisory Board of the Organising Committee of the Tribute to Contributors to the Global Campaign against Violent Extremism. Professor Parfitt stated that the award would be deferred to 2017 because of what he called “interventions” from the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times regarding the funding of PERMATA.
3. We can confirm that PERMATA is wholly funded by the Government of Malaysia under an allocation transparently included in our annual Government Budget and approved by Parliament. All expenditures are in accordance with Government financial procedures. This is not only a matter of public record, but could have been immediately explained had we or PERMATA been asked before the award deferment.
4. Neither PERMATA, Datin Sri Rosmah or the Government of Malaysia ever applied for the award. The priority of PERMATA and Datin Sri Rosmah will always be the programmes that have had a positive impact on tens of thousands of young lives. To avoid any further distraction from this important work for the children of Malaysia, PERMATA and Datin Sri Rosmah have declined the proposed deferred award.
5. We deplore attempts to politicise the work of an exemplary organisation whose only aim is to improve the lives of children. And we regret that those who chose to bestow the award have given in to the smears and insinuations of some who are only focussed on their campaign against Malaysia, the Government, and the Prime Minister. Those behind this politically-motivated campaign care nothing for the damage caused by these false allegations to PERMATA, its staff and all the young people they have helped and cared for.
6. Neither PERMATA nor Datin Seri Rosmah will be distracted by people who cast false aspersions to undermine a noble cause. Their focus will remain on making real differences for children today, to help build a better tomorrow for Malaysia.
PERMATA works within the framework of the national education system to provide a head start in life through quality early childhood education and care. PERMATA comprises a series of holistic programmes that aim to unleash the potential of children to accelerate national growth and cultivate a leading generation Malaysia can be proud of. PERMATA programmes have contributed to the improvement in the lives of tens of thousands of children, and received acclaim for their innovative approach in Malaysia and abroad.
This acclaim includes Professor Parfitt and his colleagues, who recognised PERMATA’s success as “A model that could be used in other countries with diverse populations to address some of the underlying issues that allow violent extremists to recruit young people in such environments to their ranks”.
Many other bodies have recognised PERMATA. For example, the New York Academy of Sciences gave Datin Seri Rosmah and PERMATA their STEM Heroes Award at the United Nations in 2014; the 3G Children’s Welfare Award was received at the Global Good Governance Awards in May 2016; and individuals have honoured PERMATA, such as first ladies from around the world who came to Malaysia for the inaugural PERMATA International Conference the same month.
PERMATA programmes include:
Ø PERMATA Negara, which provides early childhood education and care to children from families in the rural and low income urban areas, covering 5421 centres nationwide.
Ø PERMATA Pintar and PERMATA Insan, which are programmes for the gifted and talented who require individualised pedagogical approaches that challenge them in STEM while grounding them in the humanities and multilingual competency. PERMATA has identified and nurtured gifted children as young as two years old.
Ø PERMATA Seni, which enhances the performance of children talented in the performing arts, especially music, choir and dance.
Ø PERMATA Kurnia, which provides early intervention for children with autism spectrum disorder, prepares them for mainstream school and an independent adulthood.
Ø PERMATA Remaja, which engages youths at risk by reinforcing positive relationships and empowering them with vocational and entrepreneurship skills; to give a sense of achievement in economic independence and keep them away from negative influences.
Ø PERMATA Specialist Children’s Hospital is being constructed to provide state-of-the-art facilities and services for children and is expected to be operational in 2018.
DATUK SERI TENGKU SARIFFUDDIN
PRESS SECRETARY TO THE PRIME MINISTER