It all started with one voice. Just days after the 14th General Election on 9 May, a seven-year-old boy from Selangor – Avinash – wrote a letter to his new Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad – with a simple message to “make Malaysia a safe and peaceful country.”
Tun, or Tok Det, as he refers to himself when with children, made history as the first Malaysian to serve a second term as PM—after having previously served the country for 22 years as its fourth PM from 1981-2003. And of course, he was 92 years old!
Since that one letter, hundreds of children and young people from across Malaysia, joined Avinash to share their hopes and their dreams with Malaysia’s seventh PM. Girls and boys from different backgrounds, races, states; some living with disabilities, some undocumented and some from refugee communities. All wanted to be heard.
Some of you were really concerned about your education system and want to go to school …
Dear Tun Dr Mahathir, 1) The Ministry of Education must pay more attention to the level of English education; 2) the government should seriously consider environmental pollution and 3) I hope there is some modification to our history textbooks. – Karen, 18, Penang 🇲🇾🌺🏫 #lettertomypm . #children4change #anakmalaysia #harapan #tunm #malaysiaboleh #unicefmy #foreverychild #Malaysia #education
Dear Tun Mahathir , My name is Branden. I am 8years old. I have spinal muscular atrophy and dyslexia. My mummy told me you are now the Prime Minister and also the *Education Minister. ( Not anymore but you are still the leader ). I hope you can think of children like me. I hope we can have a chance to go to school I hope we can learn differently as we are all different. I am like other kids too. Please don't leave us behind. #lettertomypm #children4change #rightolife #leavenoonebehind #spinalmusculatrophy #raredisease
Others voiced their thoughts and concerns on peace, unity, governance and the environment.
All shared a common hope for a better Malaysia.
While these letters are dedicated to your Tok Det, they also bring to light young people’s expressions of faith, hope and belief, not just for a better country but also for a better future. Through your ideas, your solutions, you have confirmed that children are their very own best advocates.
We at UNICEF are so impressed lah; and so in awe of your courage, and your willingness to speak up and to be head. So in honour of all children and young people in Malaysia, UNICEF compiled a selection of letters into a book titled #lettertomyPM to share with the Prime Minister on his birthday. And we also hope all leaders in Government will read it and be inspired to make your ideas a reality.
So to all of you awesome children and young people – Bravo! Please continue to share your ideas and be heard .. (and do it in a respectful way too OK!).
And to Malaysia’s 7th PM Tun Dr. Mahathir – a very Happy 93rd Birthday from UNICEF Malaysia!
#lettertomyPM was a campaign by UNICEF Malaysia to give children and youth in Malaysia an opportunity to speak and be heard, not just by the new PM, but also by the other new leaders of the country. Although UNICEF has stopped receiving letters directly, we encourage children and youth to share your messages by uploading these to your Instagram, and tagging @unicefmalaysia with hashtag #lettertomypm and #children4change