By Muhammad Basir Roslan
KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama) – Seven years ago, housewife Nur Akmal Alias took the bold decision to start a business to improve her family’s financial status. Today, the 41-year-old mother-of-three owns a successful keropok (fish or prawn crackers) venture in Terengganu.
These days Nur Akmal, who is from Kampung Binjal in Kemaman, is also busy sharing her success story and inspiring others at public events.
Last month, she was invited to give a talk at the Terengganu edition of the Malaysian Family Aspirations Tour (Jelajah Aspirasi Keluarga Malaysia or JAKM), which took place in Kuala Terengganu from June 2-4. Her audience returned home that day feeling thoroughly motivated, knowing that they too, together with some help from the government, can emulate her success.
Recalling the JAKM event, Nur Akmal told Bernama in a Zoom interview that she saw with her own eyes the encouraging response from the public, especially housewives, who were seeking opportunities to improve their standard of living.
“I used to be a housewife but I decided to start a business to improve my family’s quality of life. I chose to sell keropok because it is a very popular snack and has good sales potential in Terengganu… it is what most tourists and visitors buy,” she said.
She operates her business at the Perasing rest and service area in Kemaman and has five workers on her payroll.
“I also owe my success to the East Coast Economic Region Development Council which has given me a lot of support and guidance,” she said, adding that upcoming JAKM events must continue to include motivational talks to inspire people to come out of their shell and strive to enhance their socioeconomic status.
The Malaysian Family concept, anchored on the three key thrusts of inclusiveness, togetherness and gratitude, was introduced by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob in August last year as part of efforts to speed up the nation’s recovery process after being impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
JAKM got off the ground early this year and so far the Malaysian Family Aspirations Tour programme has been conducted in six states, namely Johor, Perlis, Sabah, Terengganu, Perak and, most recently, Kelantan.
Usually held over three days, the programme is aimed at benefitting people from all walks of life. Among the highlights are booths manned by officials of ministries and government departments and agencies who are there to provide their services directly to the public.
Job carnivals are also a part of the programme, reflecting the government’s commitment to providing more comprehensive job opportunities to the people. Through this initiative, the government hopes to reduce the unemployment rate by providing 600,000 job opportunities this year, for which it has allocated RM4.8 billion.
Government employee Asma Mansor, 58, who is from Perlis, said the JAKM organisers also provide space for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to do business, thus exposing their products to new customers.
“The JAKM programme in Kangar on March 25-27 was very lively. Besides booths operated by government agencies, there were also about 115 stalls selling all kinds of goods. There were also dozens of food trucks. I understand that over 14,000 people attended the three-day event,” she said.
“I also noticed many local products, such as clothes, food and beverages, produced by SMEs on sale there. This will definitely open up space for the traders to explore new areas outside the state that may provide them with better opportunities, perhaps through collaborations and business matching.”
She added that since JAKM’s Perlis edition was held during the month of Ramadan, the organisers also included a religious forum organised by Yayasan Dakwah Islamiah Malaysia.
“This is a noble effort by the organisers to strengthen the understanding of Islam among Muslims as well as enhance their love for their religion, race and country,” she said.
GET CLOSER TO THE PEOPLE
Meanwhile, head of the Department of Government and Civilisation Studies at Universiti Putra Malaysia Associate Prof Dr Mohd Mahadee Ismail said the inclusive nature of the JAKM programme is in line with the aspirations of the people who are in need of advisory services and information as well as want to meet their leaders personally to pour out their woes to them.
“This programme involves the participation of various agencies in the public and private sectors that will be offering their services directly to the public. It also strengthens ties between the leaders and the people and reflects the government’s concern for the rakyat,” he said.
The JAKM initiative, he pointed out, can be improved further considering that it is still in its early stages, adding that more people would benefit if the programme is implemented in each district instead of focusing only on the big cities.
“Perhaps, they can conduct the programme on a smaller scale so as to reduce the cost of organising it,” he said.
Mohd Mahadee also urged the JAKM organisers to get leaders from all levels – regardless of whether they are at the federal, state, parliamentary, district or even village level and irrespective of their political leanings, religion and ethnicity – to participate in their programmes.
“If they are able to do this, then it will truly fulfil the (Malaysian Family’s) concept of inclusiveness, togetherness and gratitude,” he added.
Translated by Rema Nambiar