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Advocate for Equal Human Rights through Policy Making Led IMU’s Medical Student to Winning Aflame Student Award 2023

29 Mar 2023

Established in 2012, the Aflame Student Award honours IMU’s graduating student who exemplifies the principles of compassion and leadership in serving the community. This award emphasises, reinforces, and enhances the importance of humane values and practices among these students.


This year the Aflame Student Award goes to a medical student, Raja Nur Shahkeerah Binti Raja Kamarul Zaman. Shahkeerah’s passion for advocating for equal rights flourished through her journey at IMU.


“I remember, back in 2018, my intention in joining one of IMU Cares programmes was just to help the community to achieve their dreams. Ever since then, I never turned back and in fact, I would say I fell in love with this field.”


Shahkeerah has proactively led various community-centric initiatives at IMU. The initiatives that she joined have enabled her to meet with various individuals from different backgrounds, which has opened her eyes to understanding their struggles.


Shahkeerah joined IMU Cares Advocates for Community Engagement (ACE) Programme in 2019, one of the platforms in IMU for students to reach out to the communities in need. As an outcome, together with her teammate, Shahkeerah wrote a policy paper on ‘Making Immunisation Programme Compulsory for All’ which then emerged as the national champion at the Malaysian Youth Policy Symposium (MYPS).


Her on-the-ground involvement includes leading an initiative under the IMU Cares Aid for COVID-19 Programme that provide basic needs for the affected communities during the lockdown. Shahkeerah is also actively volunteering for an initiative to improve English literacy among refugee children at Kachin Community Learning Centre and Al-Ikhlas Refugee School.


“Seeing the sights of children learning in a tiny space without proper equipment opened my eyes to the challenges they faced. It is appalling to see how these communities who were just human beings just like the rest of us were denied access to basic human rights such as education and healthcare.”


Her extensive exposure and knowledge gained through learning in the community have enabled her to learn that there are many gaps unaddressed in the country leaving some of the marginalised ones in vulnerable areas. This has led Shahkeerah to strive to empower and educate the public through policy writing. Besides health-related policy, Shahkeerah also led a group of IMU students in developing policies on prioritising public spending for Education during the pandemic, decriminalisation of suicide in Malaysia and healthcare-based policy to improve mental health accessibility among university students in 2021. Shahkeerah had also involved in an environment-based policy paper and law review with Universiti Malaya’s law students to save and restore heavily polluted Tioman Island in 2022.


During her 3-week elective posting through IMU Cares Social Internship Programme Shahkeerah had the opportunity to work with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to better understand the refugee status quo in Malaysia.


“After thorough research and consideration, I have decided to work on a policy paper addressing the accessibility of healthcare to the refugees together with UNHCR official, Dr Susheela and IMU’s Dean for Community Engagement, Prof Khoo Suan Phaik. We proposed to provide an insurance scheme to these refugees with a very low premium of just RM300 for a family of five annually.”

Receiving the IMU Aflame Student Award
At an awards ceremony held during IMU’s University Day on 17 March 2023, Shahkeerah was awarded RM1,000 cash along with a certificate and the Aflame trophy.


As the winner of the Aflame Student Award, Shahkeerah is allowed to nominate an organisation as the beneficiary of the RM 5,000 prize money to support their work to empower society. This year, the recipient of this donation is Kachin Refugee Learning Centre, a centre that provides basic education for children from Myanmar refugee families. There are two Kachin community learning centres in Kuala Lumpur: Bukit Bintang and Setapak, which provides preschool, primary and secondary education.

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