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Can't Touch This 2.0 Speech

A very good evening to all of you.

My name is Michelle Ng. I am the State Assemblywoman of Subang Jaya. I am 28 years old. As a young wakil rakyat, I am often asked whether my age is a disadvantage, and I would often have to disagree. I say this because I am fresh out of many pivotal moments in life - going through primary and secondary school, college, tertiary education. I've also just gone through the experience of looking for a job and entering the job market not too long ago, and all these informs what I can bring to the table. It also informs my experience on the subject matter today - bullying. Having been out of school for not too long, I can still recall that environment where bullying often occurs. After all, it is a place where kids gather for long periods of time.

Statistics from the Education Ministry revealed that there were more than 14,000 cases of bullying in schools between 2012 and 2015, with most of them involving physical bullying.

Now, with the advent of social media, bullying is brought online.

According to Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye approximately 84 per cent of children in Malaysia suffer from some form of bullying, with 33 per cent having been bullied online. Another 45 per cent of kids say they’ve bullied others offline and 15 per cent admit that they have committed cyberbullying acts.

According to the National Health and Morbidity Survey 2015 more youngsters are now suffering from mental health problems.

The survey revealed that about 4.2 million Malaysians aged 16 and above suffered from mental problems. The number is alarming because it shows an increase of 11.2 percent compared with 2006.

Mental health problems is predicted to be the second largest health problem in the country after heart disease by 2020, parents and teachers must ensure that children are getting the help they need.

It is for this reason that we need all quarters to come on board to solve the problem, not only of bullying but also of mental health. I am heartened by the students here in Sunway University for their efforts in raising awareness through this evening's event, and the efforts of Befrienders for reaching out to those who are suffering from mental and emotional difficulties. Know that in every little that you do, that you are creating a safer environment for victims trapped in these difficult situations.

Having said that, I am hoping that more can be done. Given that a large part of bullying happens in schools - and quite inevitably so, as that is where young people congregate - there appears to be a need to educate teachers to learn the signs of victims who have been bullied. If resources permit, psychologists or psychiatrists should ideally be placed in schools to in part deal with these situations. This must be coupled with a zero bullying tolerance policy, where kids are made aware that swift and serious action will be taken against such juvenile action.

There must also be a safe channel for bullying to be reported. We must realise that victims of bullying often find it difficult to come forward, what more those who suffer from mental illness as a result. This is why there must be efforts to assure those who have been victimised that there is a safe place for them where they will be taken care of.

As Helen Keller said 'alone we can do so little, but together, we can do so much'. And it is with that that I would like to end my speech by encouraging everyone here to work together towards a common goal to stop bullying, and to also alleviate the stigma of mental health. Thank you, and thank you for having me.

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