American media Wall Street Journal (WSJ) and New York Times (NYT) had intervened at the eleventh hour in relation to the UNESCO award that was due to be awarded to Malaysia’s First Lady Rosmah Mansor claims Tengku Sarifuddin, press secretary to Prime Minister.
According to Sarifuddin via a statement, on September 18, Malaysia’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations (UN) received an email from Tudor Parfitt, Chairman of the Academic Advisory Board of the Organising Committee of the Tribute to Contributors to the Global Campaign against Violent Extremism.
In the email, Parfitt stated that WSJ and NYT started to query about Permata funding which later resulted the award to be deferred to 2017.
Prior to that on September 8, Irina Bokova in her capacity as Director General of UNESCO sent letters to Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak, his wife Rosmah Mansor and Foreign Minister Anifah Aman.
In the letter it was stated that Rosmah was to be given a special tribute award at an event co-hosted by UNESCO on September 22 due to her efforts undertaken by the Malaysian government to counter extremism through the educational system, and specifically the approach taken by Permata which was founded in 2007.
According to Sarifuddin Permata is wholly funded by the Malaysian government 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, pointed out Sarifuddin.
“Neither Permata, Rosmah or the Malaysian government ever applied for the award.
“The priority of Permata and 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 Rosmah have declined the proposed deferred award,” said Sarifuddin.
He also stressed that certain quarters attempt to deplore and politicise the work of an exemplary organisation whose only aim is to improve the lives of children.
Sarifuddin also expressed his regret that they chose to bestow the award have given in to the smears and insinuations of some who are only focused 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, added Sarifuddin.
He vowed that neither Permata nor the Prime Minister’s wife will be distracted by people who cast false aspersions to undermine a noble cause and 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.
It 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.
The noble 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.
Even Parfitt and his colleagues 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”.
Before this Permata have won other awards such as:
The New York Academy of Sciences bestowed 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.