Proposal on stateless people, street kids

Proposal on stateless people, street kids
14 June, 2008

Kota Kinabalu: A third country may be asked to accept Sabah’s stateless people and street children.

Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar, who floated the idea, said this could be one of the solutions to the perennial illegal immigrant problem in the State.

He said while deporting illegal immigrants could be done easily it was the Stateless people and street children that posed a big problem.

"If we can identify (the illegals) like, for instance, that they are from Indonesia or the Philippines, we can give them travel documents that come from their embassies and then send them back.

"Where we have problem is when the people do not have anything, some not even a birth certificate É no country wants to accept them," he said at the end of this two-day visit, here, Friday.

In light of this, he said banking on countries willing to take in these people could be a good idea.

"Like the Rohingyas (in the peninsula), we previously discussed with the United States who were willing to accept about a few thousand into their country," Syed Hamid said.

He said apart from these issues, Malaysia also had other things to consider pertaining to Stateless people and streetchildren such as human rights, children’s rights and international law.

The United Nations considers those without documents and not accepted by their countries as refugees, he said.

"The most complex issue is people without documents É how are we to deal with this? We cannot simply take and send them to some country (as) they will say ‘they are not ours’.

"But we can understand the fear of the locals," Syed Hamid said, adding they had deported more than 100,000 illegal immigrants since 2000.

He said the Cabinet Committee on illegal immigrants headed by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak would meet soon to discuss solutions and areas to tackle in Sabah as well as other parts of the country.

"Ultimately I think we will have people who (really) understand the issue, which is complex and technical É it cannot be only from our side. We will call up people from the State," he said.

He also urged the people in Sabah not to be overly sensitive and emotional about the issue, adding the media could help in this matter.

To a question, he said there was no need for a Royal Commission of Inquiry to look into claims that illegals obtained identity cards through the backdoor.

"I think we have stated, where they are Malaysians we cannot go back to question their rights as citizens.

"I cannot question (for instance) when I look at you and ask because you look different from me where do you come from, how did you get your citizenship. That is not within my power.

"I think citizens are bound by the constitution of the country.

"And I do not think (for) every issue we face we have to establish a Royal Commission," Syed Hamid said.

THE Government is thinking about placing anti-narcotics officers in certain countries to better combat the drug menace.

Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid said Malaysia could secure more valuable information, especially on international drug rings if the officers, called drug liaison officers, were stationed outside the country and worked with the enforcement authorities there.

"We have our intelligence and police-to-police relations with (for example) Interpol but sometimes it is good to have our people there to improve intelligence gathering and moreover the interaction would be on a constant basis.

"I am seriously looking into this possibility, at how best we can do it," he said after a briefing with the heads of the Narcotics Crime Investigation Department (NCID).

Also present was Bukit Aman NCID director Datuk Zulhasnan Mohd Najib.

He said based on the briefing they found that there was a tendency for international drug syndicates to use Malaysia as their transit point.

Syed Hamid is also worried about Malaysians being manipulated by the syndicates and being used as couriers for drugs.

"We looked at their modus operandi at how they lure our people, especially girls, to be part of their syndicate, even to the extent of pretending to want to marry them.

"And they (Malaysians) end up being arrested outside the country," he said.

He explained that Malaysia has its Special Branch officers, for instance in Thailand, but their tasks involve mainly gathering of general intelligence.

"They (Special Branch officers) look out for everything, and it is not they cannot do the work, but we do not want to overburden them.

"Since we have the NCID, we want to have these liaison officers there where they will focus only on drugs," Syed Hamid said.

But he admitted the implementation of this programme might take a while.

"The sooner we can do it the better but we have to take into account the technical and logistical requirements. It cannot be implemented immediately."


Ministry To Study Status Of Half Million Street Children

April 24, 2008 23:01 PM      

Ministry To Study Status Of Half Million Street Children

KUALA LUMPUR, April 24 (Bernama) — The Women, Family and Community Development Ministry is taking the claim by certain quarters that there are half million street children in the country, seriously.

What is more disturbing is their claim that most of the children were born and raised by their sex-worker mothers and exposed to an immoral environment.

Its minister Datuk Dr Ng Yen Yen said that most of the children were from Sabah.

However, the number had not been verified, she said.

"We will conduct research to find out whether the claim is true," she told reporters after officiating at the Association of Wives of Ministers and Deputy Ministers (Bakti) annual general meeting, at the Bakti building in Taman Tun Dr Ismail, here Thursday.

Dr Ng said the study would be conducted as soon as possible because it was a huge challenge for the ministry to find a solution to the problem.

"The research, among others, will identify the children’s origin and whether they are Malaysian citizens or not," she added.

Apart from that, Dr Ng said the ministry would also try to find out the number of children with no identification document.

"This is very important. (If) they do not own a birth certificate, they cannot go to school, cannot apply for identity card and when they grow up, they will be a burden to the government because they will not get hired."

Dr Ng said that her ministry would also look into the reasons for the parents to abandon their children.

On sex workers’ children, Ng said she was upset when the children were left outside the rooms where their mothers worked.

"Since the children are ‘our children’, the ministry has established a Child Protection Centre to care for the children while their mothers go to work," she said, adding that one such centre was established in Chow Kit.

Also present at the AGM was the Prime Minister’s wife Datin Seri Jeanne Abdullah.


RM5m street kids centre

RM5m street kids centre

Kota Kinabalu: A RM5 million centre for street children (Pusat Perlindungan Ehsan) will be built at the old Sekolah Tunas Bakti in Inanam, through a RM5.25m allocation from the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry, it was disclosed Monday.

Welcoming the move, Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Haji Aman said it would greatly assist in addressing street children-related problems in Sabah, especially in reducing the negative impact of these children on the State’s socio-economy.

"I hope the second phase development of the protection house will proceed smoothly (with the necessary allocation approved)," he said during a meeting on street children issues with Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil at Wisma Innoprise, Monday.

The second phase development would allow the children to be segregated based on gender. Musa said the State Government was also grateful to Shahrizat’s Ministry for the RM250,000 fund to upgrade facilities at the Temporary Detention Centre in compliance with the Convention on the Rights of Human Child (CRC1995).

The children were being given basic education in line with the curriculum set by the Education Department. "Hopefully, the children will be able to undergo a conducive life while waiting for the protection house in Inanam," he said.

Musa said not all "street children" were those of foreigners (Filipinos) as some were born to Malaysian parents. "Those identified as local kids will be given the opportunity to attend school."

The State Government was also confident that studies on the street children by the Ministry in collaboration with Universiti Malaysia Sabah would give a clearer picture on the problem.

"We hope it will assist the State Government and the Ministry to draw up a long term plan that is more holistic and integrated to address the problem in Sabah," he said.

Shahrizat said statistics show that Sabah had a large number of "street children" but that their exact number was still being verified.

She said the Committee on Street Children covers "street children" not just in Sabah but nationwide. "What we know is that Sabah has a huge number of ‘street children’ but we do not know exactly how huge.

"We will work with UMS to determine the number. They will go down to the ground to find out how many are locals and how many are foreign children without valid documents," she said.

According to Shahrizat, the committee was given different figures, some obtained through operations by the Immigration and Police authorities.

"We have to do a proper study to identify whether the children are Malaysians or foreigners in an effort to get them off the street."

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Yahya Hussin said only 48 children are presently housed at the temporary Children Protection Centre for Street Children located in Menggatal near the Detention Centre for illegal immigrants pending deportation.

Shahrizat reminded parents that it is an offence not to send their children to school as primary education is compulsory under the Education Act.

"Those charged and convicted are liable to a fine of RM5,000."

In this connection, her Ministry will collaborate with the Education Ministry in launching an awareness campaign as a pilot project.

At the Majlis Mesra Rakyat function, Shahrizat presented two cheques for the sum of RM100,000 each to Musa for the Mayang (State Welfare Development Council) and Nadi programmes (Adun Network) respectively. She also presented a third cheque valued at RM100,000 for the State Women & Family Development Council (MPWK Sabah) to Yahya.

It was witnessed by the Secretary-General to Shahrizat’s Ministry, Dato’ Faizah Tahir. Also present were Assistant Minister of Industrial Development, Hjh Jainab Datuk Hj Ahmad, Assistant Minister of Resource Development & Information Technology, Melanie Chia, Assistant Minister of Community Development & Consumer Affairs, Jornah Mozihim, Senator Datuk Armani Hj Mahiruddin and Deputy State Secretary Maznah Hj Abdul Ghani.

RM5-Mln Shelter Home For Street Kids

November 13, 2007 09:40 AM      

RM5-Mln Shelter Home For Street Kids

KOTA KINABALU, Nov 12 (Bernama) — The Women, Family and Community Development Ministry has allocated RM5 million for the building of a shelter home for street children in Sabah.

The home, which is under construction, is situated at Menggatal near here.

Minister Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil said the ministry, with the collaboration of Universiti Malaysia Sabah and the State Education Department, would also carry out a study to determine the number of street kids in Sabah.

"This is also to enable us to identify the illegal foreign children," she added.

She said a coordinating committee on street kids had been formed at the ministry to find ways to get these children off the streets.

"This committee is not only focused on street kids in Sabah but also nationwide," she told reporters at the ministry’s meet-the-people session here Tuesday.

Shahrizat said parents of street kids could be prosecuted under the Education Act for not sending their children to school because it was compulsory for children to receive primary education.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman, who was also present, thanked the ministry and Shahrizat for helping Sabah to solve the problem of street kids.

At the function, Shahrizat also handed out aid of RM300,000 to be distributed to the Welfare and Community Development Council (Mayang), the Nada Nadi Community Programme (Nadi) and the Women and Family Development Council (MPWK).

‘Special squads to help ‘street children’ of Johor

‘Special squads to help ‘street children’ of Johor

MUAR: Special squads will be formed by the state to help “street children” found loitering in Johor Baru. 

The squads will help and guide these children and provide then with skills training. 

State Women, Family and Community Development Committee chairman Dr Robia Kosai said NGOs, organisations and the public would be asked to join hands with the state in the effort. 

She said the children, mostly aged between 11 and 19, had been roaming the city, including in the wee hours, although many had parents. 

“We want to save these children before they get into trouble and become a nuisance. Plans are under way to set up special squads to help guide, train and advise these children,” she said. 

Dr Robia said the state government had set up a special committee to handle the issue, adding that juvenile court advisers in all districts would also be roped in. 

She said some of the children were known to be sniffing glue, engaging in casual sex and other immoral activities. 

She said these children would usually leave their homes after their parents had gone to bed. 

A recent raid in Johor Baru by the Welfare Department resulted in 50 such wayward children being rounded up, she said, adding that most were dropouts.  

“We welcome views from the public on how best to tackle this problem. We have to act fast,” she added.

Johor plans to save street children

Johor plans to save street children

MUAR: The Johor Government is looking into undertaking effective measures to help save street children who are becoming a social problem for Johor Baru. 

State Women, Family and Community Development Committee chairman Dr Robia Kosai said families, society and non-governmental organisations would also be asked to help expedite the project. 

Speaking to reporters here she said the children, aged between 11 and 19, had been roaming the city, including in the wee hours of the night, and that many had parents. 

"We have decided to save these children before they are lured into vices, drug addiction or turned into vagabonds and become a public nuisance. 

"Plans are underway to even set up special groups of people to help guide, train and advise them towards clean living," she said at a dinner held at the Muar Golf Club here on Monday. 

Dr Robia said the state had set up a special committee to look after the welfare of such children besides having teams of juvenile court advisers at all the districts. 

She said it had been reported that some of the children had picked up bad habits such as glue sniffing, indulged in wild sex, and some became rape victims. 

She said many of the children had parents who did not care for them while some parents did not realise their children’s activities after dark, adding that, these children would leave the house after the parents went to bed. 

She said a recent raid carried out in Johor Baru by Welfare Department officers managed to round up about 50 such children whose ages ranged between 11 and 19. 

She said since most did not attend schools, the state planned to provide them with skills training courses to equip them with work knowledge for their future. 

"We are now calling for the public, especially non-governmental organisations, to give their views on ways to protect and care for such children. 

"We have to act fast before the street children become a social problem to society," she added.

Street Children in Malaysia

Street Children in Malaysia

(blog entry from World:Bridge A Refugees International Blog)

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Al Jazeera English recently did a piece on street children in Sabah, Malaysia. You can view the clip here. I visited Sabah in April while on mission in Malaysia to look at the humanitarian situation for Burmese refugees. Sabah is a beautiful part of Malaysia that attracts many visitors who are interested in eco-tourism. But it is also home to thousands of migrants from the Philippines and Indonesia whose children often do not have access to public services like health care and education.

Children of migrants in Sabah whose parents have been deported by immigration authorities, and who do not have any other guardians to care for them, often end up living on the street and are forced to find work at a young age. While in Sabah, I visited a fish market in Kota Kinabalu in the early morning and saw many children pushing heavy wooden carts for customers or sleeping on top of crates between the fish stands. According to local community workers I spoke with, these children are also targets for arrest and detention by immigration and police. The street children in Sabah are very vulnerable, particularly those who are without identity documents and may be at risk of being stateless.

If you would like to see more images of the conditions that the street children in Sabah live and work in, I highly recommend the photos of Greg Constantine, who has done some amazing work on Sabah, as well as on stateless populations throughout Asia. And for more information on street children in Malaysia in general, check out this blog on street children around the world.

Helping Malaysia’s street children

Helping Malaysia’s street children

By Jasbant Singh, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia


About 500 children are left to loiter at night
in the back streets of the capital

Up to 100 million children around the world live on the streets, according to UN figures, easy targets for exploitation and abuse.

Jasbant Singh, reporting for Al Jazeera from Kuala Lumpur, looks at a government centre in Malaysia set up to help street children, but which is causing controversy in the predominantly Muslim country.

About 500 children are left to loiter at night in the back streets minutes away from the bright lights of Kuala Lumpur city centre. Some are as young as six-years old.

Some have no home to go to, others cannot go home because home is where their mothers work as prostitutes.

"I know people say what I do is immoral and not good for children, but if I don’t do this who’s going to feed my child?" asks Anita, one of Kuala Lumpur’s sex workers.

Anita works in the back allies of the suburb of Chow Kit. She is dying of cancer.

Video link

Watch Jasbant Singh’s full report here

She has an 11-year-old son who roams the streets while his mother is at work. At school, his classmates and his teachers picked on him because of his family background and so he does not go to school any more.

Three years ago, he was put in a welfare home, but he ran away. Back to his mother.

Hartini Zainudin, a consultant at the Salam Malaysia Foundation, told Al Jazeera: "These children love their parents, whatever they do and so he wanted to be with his mother."

Zainudin helps to run a day care centre in Chow Kit, where the boy spends the day with other children who share similar stories – some of their parent’s are drug abusers, others are prostitutes.

The children get only the basics at the centre: some meals and lessons in reading and writing.

Conservatives speak out

Hartini Zainudin helps to run a centre
for street children in Chow Kit  

The centre is supported by Malaysia’s welfare ministry, but it has to fight for its own survival because the problems it seeks to cope with are often taboo subjects in Malaysia.

Dr Siti Mariah, of the Islamic Party of Malaysia, told Al Jazeera she was concerned the government’s support of the centre and its inability to tackle the cause of the problem, was as good as sanctioning prostitution.

"I’m worried about the message it gives to society that since the government is … helping them bring up their children, it’s OK not taking any action on the parents, the mothers," she said.

While most support the centre’s work, it fits uncomfortably with some segments of Malaysia’s society.

But Zainudin says the centre is necessary to keep the children off the streets.

"If we don’t protect [them, they] will be the fourth generation of sex workers in Chow Kit. This is what we don’t want," she says.

Street children have been a long-standing problem in Malaysia, but it is looking more and more as though the government is ready to ignore powerful, conservative, Muslim groups in order to deal with it.