Ashley Marilynne Wong (BA (Hons) English with Creative Writing, 2018) won The YOUth of Tomorrow writing competition under the poem category with her piece titled Six Ways to Expose Your Daughter to Domestic Abuse while and Shafiqah Alliah Razman (BA (Hons) English Language and Literature, 2021) won the short story category with her piece titled Diari Sepi Seorang Mudi. Both winners graduated from the School of English.
The Empower’s The YOUth of Tomorrow writing competition aimed at providing a platform for writers to express the right of freedom. The competition was held from 16 August to 1 September 2021 and the announcement of the winners was made online on 15 September 2021.
The inspiration for Ashley’s poem was from the conviction that there was a link between a child and domestic abuse. She hopes to inspire her fellow “juniorists” (a term coined by Ashley for children’s rights advocates) and other human rights advocates to have the audacity to speak up against injustice, inequality and abuse through her poem.
Shafiqah’s inspiration for her short story came from her desire to write pent-up thoughts, observations of the political and social environments, as well as the strength, solidarity, and kindness she had witnessed.
Shafiqah’s short story is about budding voices, hope, and the persona herself (a young woman) struggling with lots of questions, confusion, loneliness, doubt, and frustrations. The persona also questions the significance of her voice but keeps going.
With her piece, Shafiqah wants to give hope and some sense of empowerment to youth, women and whoever out there who’s willing to listen. She hopes to humbly remind everyone of our significance and love for our country – how much our voices and efforts are needed.
In 2020, Shafiqah’s creative non-fiction “Fear, Let Me Be Free” had the honour of being in the Top 20 of The Freedom to Express Myself without Fear - another essay competition organised by Empower Malaysia. It was a competition for aspiring writers aged 13 to 23 with the theme of The Freedom to Express Myself without Fear. That piece revolved around Shafiqah’s experience in overcoming age-old stereotypes and how she slowly conquered the fear of expressing herself.
Here are some inspiring words from Ashley, “Dare to write – and by extension speak – your heart out. Be ambitious, true to yourself and limitless,”. Shafiqah says, “Have courage and be kind, and don’t limit yourself. Have faith, believe in yourself and give yourself chances. Life has ways of surprising you, so we should keep exploring, discovering and expressing! Don’t worry; you will find your footing.”
The winners were awarded a cash prize of RM400 and an e-certificate. Ashley’s poem and Shafiqah’s short story are available on the Empower’s new feminist website.
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Posted on 6th October 2021