KUALA LUMPUR – Good Shepherd Malaysia, represented by Theresa Symons, its Executive Director, together with seven other civil society members, was invited to a roundtable discussion with Mr Barack Obama, the President of United States of America, on Saturday, 21 November 2015. Mr Obama was visiting Malaysia for the Asean Summit in Kuala Lumpur.
The discussion started with the President expressing his appreciation and support for the work done by civil society in Malaysia. Obama stated that the US firmly believed that having a strong civil society was necessary to achieve more accountable governance, and that it was his country’s policy to meet leaders of such groups during his trips abroad.
Symons shared on the topic of human trafficking in Malaysia whilst other members expressed views on their various areas of specialisation in the closed door discussion.
Human trafficking is a systemic problem which requires strong political will and determination to address. Although the Anti Trafficking In Persons and Smuggling of Persons Act was enacted in Malaysia in 2007, its implementation has been dismal. In the proposed implementation of the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement of which Malaysia is a party to, Symons called on the US to balance economic gains alongside fundamental human rights of just recruitment and employment practices and fair working conditions for migrant workers including providing legal recourse for those who were exploited.
This rare opportunity to meet the President of the United States lasted an hour and 10 minutes. – www.goodshepherd-asiapacific.org.au