Written by Cindy Banun and Lavanya A/P Balakrishnan
Edited by: Varshini Vijayakumar
Photo Credit: lightsandhue
“Truth Be Told 2.0” is an anti-bullying educational event that was held on the 8th of June at Dorsett Grand Subang. It was a charity dinner consisting of an 8-course meal. The objective of this event was to educate people on the rising issue of bullying and to raise funds for Befrienders KL. This event was held by the Department of Communication and Liberal Arts (DCLA) third year BA (Hons) Communications students specializing in Public Relations Project Management. They also organized last year’s “Can’t Touch This” campaign. “Truth Be Told 2.0” is organized as part of their coursework for the subject COM 3174 Event Management to ensure students obtain hands-on experience in planning and executing public relation campaigns. “Truth Be Told 2.0” was meant to be a sequel of last semester’s event: a poetry showcase circling the theme of sexual harassment.
This event was attended by Dr. Elizabeth Lee, Senior Executive Director of Sunway Education, Prof. Graeme Wilkinson, Vice-Chancellor of Sunway University, Prof. Donald William Bowyer, the Dean of School of Arts (SOA), Andy Darrel Gomes, the Founder of Project Spect-Actor, Kenny Lim, the Executive Director of Befrienders KL, and Justin Victor, the Chairman of Befrienders KL. YB Puan Michelle Ng Mei Sze, the ADUN of Subang Jaya was the guest of honor for the evening. Lecturers including Ms Karmini Narayanan, the advisor lecturer of COM 3174 was also present at the event.
The event opened with a dance performance by Chromation, a K-Pop Dance Group formed in Red Mouse Studio, Kuala Lumpur. The emcees, Ruwan and Sofia introduced themselves and gave a brief explanation of the event and the theme of bullying which helped frame the issue of bullying from a Malaysian perspective. According to the National Health and Morbidity Survey held in 2015,bullying is a serious issue suffered by 84% of Malaysian children. The Star also reported that bullying cases have increased by 14.4% since 2015 and a total of 3,448 school cases were reported in 2017. Moreover, there are about 338 cases of cyberbullying among students reported every day (CyberSecurity Malaysia Statistics, 2016). Hence, DCLA students wished to create awareness and encourage community engagement on the issue of bullying by making it the theme of “Truth Be Told 2.0” event.
The dinner presentation started as Dr. Elizabeth Lee delivered a short speech. She provided more insight on this topic, highlighted a few types of bullying and also explained about two bullying incidents in 2017 which resulted in the death of the victims. She also stated that bullying is often dismissed in school even though it is extremely detrimental to the growth of children as their learning decreases and causes emotional breakdown. YB Michelle Ng, ADUN of Subang Jaya was also invited onstage to speak. She stated that being a 28-year-old, she had gone through school and tertiary education not too long ago and could still offer her experiences on bullying as she could still recall the environment in school where bullying often occur. She also stated that she felt encouraged by the “Can’t Touch This” team and Befrienders KL’s contribution to this issue, and that this organization’s role as a safe space is important for victims.
The program continued as Justin Victor, the Chairman of Befrienders KL informed the audience that awareness is required to minimize the stigma of being a victim of bullying. This is because there are only few reported bullying cases and a majority of the cases goes unnoticed. He proceeded to explain that Befrienders KL is a non-profit organization whose mission is to alleviate distress and help reduce the risk of suicide without any form of discrimination. This is done through the emotional support offered through the 24-hour telephone helpline, email and face-to-face appointments. The dinner presentation continued with a magic performance by Wayne Liew, a 23-year-old student. He engaged the audience and also invited lecturers up onstage as a helper for various magic tricks.
Andy Darrel Gomes gave a speech and stated that the name “spect-actor” (which is derived from the word “spectator”), reflects their stand on the issue of bullying. Instead of “spectating” and being a passive viewer of the issues happening around us, “Spect-actor” refers to the active response to these issues. This is also an attitude they wanted the audience to adopt. The “Theatre of the Oppressed” was initially introduced in January 2017 by Andy Darrel Gomes (a theatre practitioner) in his classroom so that his students can develop critical thinking skills and empathy. However, this quickly turned into a youth movement formed by Project Spect-Actor as a response to the death of two youths who were the subject of bullying. “Theatre of the Oppressed” is performed to engage with youths who are the most affected by bullying.
“Theatre of the Oppressed” performance stars six talented actor and actresses who performed a bullying skit onstage. The skit was held in a school setting where the people around the bullying victims were unsympathetic as the classmates used to be victims of the same bully, while the teacher told the victim to learn to stand up for herself. The skit continues with an open discussion with the audience on what the victim should do in that situation and what is the appropriate action to take when a victim of bullying needs help.
Next, Sonya Donita Charles was invited onstage for a storytelling session where she inspired the audience to never give up on their dreams and shared her difficulties in living with a skin condition known as vitiligo. It had caused her to be a victim of bullying. However, she managed to achieve success despite all the obstacles and emerged even stronger than ever. How Peng Jiet, the event director delivered a speech which followed after the storytelling session. He stated that he is grateful for the opportunity to contribute and fight for a greater cause and hoped that this event would leave a lasting impression on students and the public alike.
A mock cheque was presented to Befrienders KL, where a total of RM6,000 was raised, which exceeded the donation goal of RM5,000. The mock cheque was presented to the Chairman of Befrienders KL Mr. Justin Victor and the Executive Director Mr. Kenny Lim by Dr. Elizabeth Lee. Prior to this charity bazaar, the “Can’t Touch This” team started publicity their Facebook and Instagram account from the 25th May to 8th June and carried out class-to-class promotions from 28th May to 8th June. Donation, sandwich board and sticker sales were held from week 8 onwards. A photo competition held on social media also helped to promote the event where participants were required to design a pallet. Two participants who obtained the most likes on social media by 8th June walked away with Camp5 climbing vouchers. In the two rounds of lucky draw that was conducted during the charity dinner, the audience managed to bring home vouchers from Dorsett Grand Subang and Camp5 Climbing Gym, JBL speakers and a polaroid camera. The VIPs were then invited onstage for a photo session after the gift ceremony.
The event concluded as a memorable event for everyone, especially the “Can’t Touch This” team themselves. The event had exceed their expectations with its good reception, awareness of the event and the issue it advocates. They managed to get a full house at the event and also exceeded their donation goal for Befrienders KL.