Cover Story, Current Affairs, National

Ismail Sabri needs to prioritise the wellbeing of children in Malaysia

Media statement by MP for Segambut, Hannah Yeoh on 22 August 2021:

 

Ismail Sabri Needs to Establish A Ministry of Children

 

Ismail Sabri needs to prioritise the wellbeing of children. According to the Department of Statistics Malaysia 2020, the population of children is about 30% in most states, with Wilayah Persekutuan coming top at 38.5% (almost hitting 40%!). This is a sizable group and they are indeed our future and our greatest asset.

 

This pandemic has exposed and amplified the weaknesses of our country’s system to adequately protect children.

 

Food baskets provided by the Government did not include milk for infants and toddlers. After more than a year of battling Covid-19, the Perikatan Nasional government woke up to the need of identifying children who were made orphans by Covid-19.

 

Challenges 

 

Prior to the Covid-era, children in Malaysia were already facing many challenges and violations. Child abuse, sexual acts against children and neglect are common forms of violation to children in Malaysia.

During Pakatan Harapan’s time in Putrajaya, we focused heavily on issues relating to children because of their vulnerability – the inability to protect themselves leading to harm being caused. Among the initiatives introduced to improve children safety include:

 
  • We appointed the first Children’s Commissioner.
  • Launched the first child sex offenders registry.
  • Provided millions in grant to establish childcare in the workplace for our civil service.
  • Launched infographics for childcare providers and parents.
  • Partnered with Google to bring awareness videos on bad touch vs good touch for young children.
  • Provided WhatsApp services for Talian Kasih to make it more accessible.
 

Work-In-Progress 

 

All the above would require dedicated resources and manpower in protecting our children. As such, we had then launched a study on creating an Agency For Children and we were also working on increasing multiple folds the 208 child protectors we have. Currently, a child protector takes up 80 children’s cases leaving them insufficient time for follow-ups.

 

The actual ratio of protector and children is 1:45,142 and this is simply impossible for protection of children to be effective.

 

There were also preliminary meetings being held to restructure early childhood education and care (ECCE), recommendations for the Home Ministry to simplify citizenship procedures for children involving Malaysian mothers, adoption process, foster care and data sharing with the police.



Conclusion 

 

The wellbeing of our children is under severe threat during this prolonged lockdown. If so many meetings can be called to jostle for positions amongst the prospective Ministers, surely our children deserve their attention.

If the Perikatan Nasional government then could pacify 32 ministers and 38 deputy ministers with a portfolio each, it would not be impossible for Ismail Sabri to fulfill the immediate need for the formation of a Ministry of Children.

 

It is time the new Prime Minister of Malaysia prioritises our children above special envoy and advisor positions with Minister status.

 

If it could be done then for Hadi Awang and Faizal Azumu, it can and must be done now for our children. Our children are far more worthy of taxpayers’ money!

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