Seafarer Day Celebration 2019

#IamOnBoard with Gender Equality

This year’s Day of the Seafarer’s theme #IamOnBoard with Gender Equality was central to the Marine Department Malaysia’s celebration at the Maritime Transport Training Institute (Institut Latihan Pengangkutan Laut) (ILPL) on the 3rd of July. The event started with the Malaysian Maritime Academy’s (ALAM) bagpipe-and-drum band performance by its cadets, and the singing of Negaraku. Following that was the welcoming speech by the Director of Marine Malaysia, YBhg. Dato’ Hj. Baharin bin Dato’ Abdul Hamid in which he highlighted the call for gender equality in the maritime sector, which the Marine Department has been working towards. Women make up one percent of the 7,226 local seafarers who are onboard, and the Marine Department is dedicated to ensuring that the working environment on ships is safe and that they are afforded equal opportunity to serve on ships. His speech gave tribute to the seafarers’ contribution to the nation’s economy and women’s participation in it.

Minister of Transport Yang Berhormat Loke Siew Fook delivering his welcoming speech at the Seafarer Day Celebration.

As the Chairman of Kumpulan Wang Pusat Perdagangan Laut (KWPPL), he had also talked about the important role the Marine Department of Malaysia plays in ensuring seafarer welfare and rights are protected. For this purpose, the department places high importance on compliance to the Maritime Labor Convention (MLC) 2006 which was ratified through the Merchant Shipping Ordinance (MSO) 1952 (Act 1519) and enforced since 1 March 2017. Empowerment is also being developed through the National Shipping and Port Council (NSPC), Advisory Council 2, which focuses solely on seafarers.

Minister of Transport Malaysia, Yang Berhormat Loke Siew Fook then took the podium and gave recognition to Malaysian seafarers, who in 2018 alone had moved seaborne trade to a total of RM1.88 trillion in the nation’s total trade. He also called for equal opportunity between men and women in the maritime industry and said that statistics have shown women seafarers are on the rise, from 33 women seafarers in 2017 to 50 in 2018, and a forecasted 70 in 2019. He was confident that the Marine Department’s efforts and initiatives would continue to bear results in the future.

YB Loke also said that Malaysia has been highly contributive to international maritime developments, and is therefore in a good position to retain its International Maritime Council (IMO) Council Seat for Category C for this year. He then officiated the event.

Minister of Transport Yang Berhormat Loke Siew Fook (center) officiating the ceremony by releasing balloons and confetti.

True to this year’s theme, a special montage was played featuring three pioneer women seafarers, Fatin Amirah binti Ghazali, Liew Tat Chee, and Eezmaira Sazzea binti Shahruzzaman (currently onboard) sharing their career’s journey from deck cadet to the only three women Chief Officers in Malaysia.

The Sea Scouts were also awarded a special Young Pioneer Icon prize. Following the Sea Scouts, recipients of the KWPPL Scholarship stepped onto the stage to claim their award, as well as recipients to IKMAL’s Education Assistance program.

Liew Tatt Chee (2nd from left) and Fatin Amirah binti Ghazali (2nd from right) receiving their awards from YB Loke Siew Fook (center).

A town hall engagement session entitled ‘Speak Up’ was set-up with three panels, namely the President of MyWIMA Dr. Yasmin Mohd Hasni, Marine Officer Mohd Hisham Rubani, and Director of the Seafarer Affairs and Port Division Captain Nazri Abu Hassan. Captain Mohd Fahmi Niza Mohd Tarmizi of the Seafarer Management Centre (SMC) moderated the session and took the audience’s questions.

A number of interesting issues about women seafarers and seafarer welfare were raised. In response to a question on career progression of women seafarers, Dr. Yasmin said that the progression could be facilitated with a mentor-mentee system, as utilized in Western maritime countries. The issue of job placements, compliance to the MLC 2006, as well as taxation to seafarers were brought up as well. The session was dynamic and engaging for both the panelists and participants, who were also invited to resolve more issues in an upcoming Tripartite Meeting which would feature all seafarer organizations, unions, and government agencies involved in their welfare.

Director of the Seafarer Affairs and Port Division Captain Nazri Abu Hassan (2nd from right) responds to a question from the Town Hall session’s participant.

The Marine Department’s Day of the Seafarer event was a thoughtful tribute of the nation’s seafarers, which not only acknowledged and gave recognition to them, but it also offered a forum for development. It is hoped that seafarers, women and men alike, will continue to be recognized as an indispensable workforce with efforts that strive toward their healthy career progression and well-protected welfare.

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