Thursday, June 20, 2024

YB Rodziah Ismail – State Exco, Selangor

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As the State Assemblywoman representing Batu Tiga, Shah Alam (Malaysia), YB Rodziah Ismail has continuously champion efforts to contribute to Selangor’s economic growth. Being the Chairman of the Standing Committee for Entrepreneur Development, Rural Development and Traditional Villages, she strives to create an inclusive economic ecosystem that will present new opportunities for aspiring entrepreneurs in Selangor, especially those residing in the sub-urban areas and villages. By embracing the contributions of these rural entrepreneurs, she is confident that the State’s economy will continue to flourish.

YB Rodziah’s first foray into politics was as a member of the Parti Keadilan Rakyat women’s wing. She first competed as a member of the State Legislative Assembly in 2008 and has since then, represented for Batu Tiga state constituency for three consecutive terms. Throughout her political career, YB Rodziah has fought for women in the country’s economic and political spheres and she continuously strives to empower the rural entrepreneurs to ensure that they become a vital part of the state’s economic landscape.

This is in line with the national agenda that emphasises on inclusivity as a key principle in Malaysia’s socio-economic development. In an effort to narrow the disparities of development between the urban and rural, the 11th Malaysia Plan endeavours to stimulate rural economic activities through quality education and training, promoting of agro-based industries and eco-tourism as well as capitalisation of the digital landscape to improve competitiveness and capacity. Furthermore, the National Entrepreneurship Policy 2030 launched on 11 July 2019 is a long term strategy for Malaysia to reach entrepreneurial nation status by 2030.

 We spoke to YB Rodziah at her office in Shah Alam to discuss about her commitment to uplift the lives of the rural population by cultivating a culture of entrepreneurship with the support of the state.

Championing Rural and Entrepreneurial Development

Selangor has served as a vital cog to the machine that drives Malaysia’s economic growth. Based on the State Socioeconomic Report 2018 published by the Department of Statistics Malaysia (DOSM), Selangor is the most populous state in the country, with population levels reaching an estimated 6.48 million in 2018. Selangor alone contributed 23.7 percent to the country’s overall Gross Domestic Product in 2018. In a separate report by DOSM published in 2011, Selangor is also one of the states with the highest level of urban population of 91.4 percent.

During the interview, YB Rodziah reveals her aspiration for Selangor to become a thriving Smart State while also maintaining its cultural identity and heritage. When asked about the importance of an effective ecosystem to stimulate entrepreneurial activities and rural development, YB Rodziah emphasises that with training, opportunity, technological exposure and enhanced connectivity, the existing strengths of each village can be leveraged on.

This is the essence of the Sarang Ekonomi Desa programme which is an initiative by the Selangor state spearheaded by YB Rodziah’s committee to encourage innovation among rural entrepreneurs in areas of capacity-building, marketing and e-commerce. The programme is a catalyst to increase the income of the B40 and M40 households in Malaysia by capitalising on the unique strengths of the rural population and the existing natural resources. Sarang Ekonomi Desa was first launched in August 2019 with a clear objective to diversify and develop the entrepreneurial landscape in Kuala Selangor area especially the Fireflies Park in Kampung Kuantan.

There are a number of self-sustaining farms managed by the residents of Shah Alam including the Al-Husna Community Garden in Seksyen 20, which produce organic fruits and vegetables for sale at the local markets.

In 2010, YB Rodziah spearheaded the Community Garden (Kebun Komuniti) project in her constituency of Batu Tiga. The project transforms abandoned lands into self-sustaining farms managed by the residents themselves. The produce consists of varied organic fruits and vegetables that are sold at a reasonable price at the local markets every Tuesday. The project has empowered the residents with urban-farming methods and also sharpened their entrepreneurial skills. YB Rodziah reveals that these farms are also looking into more sustainable solutions such as solar and rainwater harvesting systems.

YB Rodziah has also served as the Selangor State Executive Council for Social Welfare and Women Affairs for two terms from 2008 to 2013. Under her stewardship, the existing Women Empowerment Centre (PWB) was set up as a hub to empower women with the knowledge and skills to become leaders to encourage their entry into the public sphere. The agency, alongside the Women Empowerment Institute (IWB) are Selangor state’s flagship initiatives that endeavours to achieve the 30 percent target for women’s representation in politics. In 2014, she also established the Women Empowerment Initiatives (WEI) – a non-governmental organisation which focuses on capacity building for women.

The Women Empowerment Centre in Seksyen 24, Shah Alam is a hub to empower women with the skills to encourage their entry into the public sphere.

For The Future

For the past six decades since independence, Malaysia has experienced rapid urbanisation rates and is considered to be one of the most urbanised East Asian countries today. Based on the United Nations World Urbanisation Prospect 2018, urban population will make up 80 percent of Malaysia’s demography by 2025 with the country’s population expected to increase to approximately 35 million. Furthermore, the report revealed that Malaysia is one of the top thirty countries with the largest variation in rural population, with projected decrease of rural population by 31.1 percent between 2018 and 2050.

Having reached the 20th year of her political career, YB Rodziah continues to drive efforts to empower all segments of society within Selangor in line with the national agenda to foster a more equitable society. As a Selangor State EXCO, YB Rodziah aspires to increase the average household income in Selangor to RM6,000 monthly by 2025. She hopes that initiatives like the Sarang Ekonomi Desa will empower the rural population and emerging entrepreneurs to ensure that they are not left out in the socio-economic fabric of Selangor. She holds true to the vision that by 2025, the rural areas of Selangor will be a force to be reckoned with.

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