Delegate moved to tears by boy’s picture
LANGKAWI: As Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein gave his opening speech at yesterday’s National Transformation 2050 (TN2050) programme dialogue, Najihah Azait couldn’t help but cry.
Hishammuddin was talking about how Malaysia was a peaceful country and that there were many countries hit by conflicts and strife.
As he spoke, screens flashed images from these countries.
He showed a picture of a boy in Syria when times were good.
Then the screen changed to a picture of the same boy after an airstrike in Aleppo.
That picture of Omran Daqneesh, a young boy rescued from the rubble in the aftermath of the air strike, had gone viral around the world, but judging from the reaction of the more than 500 youths gathered for the dialogue, it hadn’t reached them.
Najihah was probably the most affected by the image of a dusty and bloodied Omran, sitting alone in a waiting room, unaware of what had happened to his family.
Her tears caught Hishammuddin’s attention and the minister tried his best to console the 19-year-old National Service Volunteer Brigade member, even to the point of offering to take a “welfie” with her.
That picture didn’t pan out, but Najihah managed to get a friend to snap a picture with Hishammuddin after the dialogue.
Speaking to the New Sunday Times later, Najihah said she was moved by the picture of Omran as it reminded her of her grandfather, a soldier who was killed in action during a mission.
“I do not want Malaysia to be like that,” Najihah said, referring to the war in Syria.
Coming from a patriotic family, Najihah said she appreciated the fact that the government was holding dialogue sessions with youths to get their views on moving forward.
“I really like it (the dialogue) because it is beneficial, and with Datuk Seri (Hishammuddin)’s explanation, it gave me a better view on what the government is planning to do and assured me the country will be a better nation (by 2050) and that sovereignty and safety could be protected.”
Najihah said she joined the volunteer brigade last year but worked full time as a cook.
The dialogue session yesterday saw Hishammuddin and Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jmaluddin engaging with more than 500 youths from, among others, the volunteer brigade, Reserve Officers Training Units of Universiti Malaya and Universiti Pertahanan Nasional Malaysia.