Govt needs to do more to protect Malaysian, refugee children, says paediatrician

The willpower and commitment to protect children in this country, regardless of status, must be clearly outlined by the government.

Senior consultant paediatrician Datuk Dr Amar Singh HSS said this in response to the speech by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob in Parliament today. World Children’s Day was celebrated in the Parliament building today while the actual celebration is this Saturday.

Dr Amar said there appears to be no specific strategy on how the government planned to protect children in the country, including those who were stateless.

“While the PM’s speech looked and sounded good, it was quite ‘touch-and-go’. In reality, more could be done to protect children,” said Dr Amar.

“What about refugee children, separated from their families? Non-governmental organisations and United Nations agencies have not been allowed inside detention sites for more than two years.”

He said the formal education of children in these sites was non-existent.

“There are many reports of families being separated – parents taken away, and children being left to fend for themselves.

“We do not know what sort of healthcare they are receiving as well.”

In his speech, Ismail Sabri said the government remained committed to protecting children, especially those from the vulnerable group, or victims of sexual crimes, and domestic violence.

The prime minister highlighted that between June 2020 and August this year, 1,721 cases of sexual crimes against children were recorded while 2,162 cases were being tried in court.

Dr Amar, however, was sceptical about the drop in the number of reported abuse cases involving children.

“I wrote an article last year about how powerless our Welfare Department is, as they have ‘missed’ many abuse cases,” said Dr Amar.

“Even when abuse cases are reported, most do not end up in court. The Welfare Department lacks the expertise. I would have been happier if the government had elaborated on how it planned to transform the Welfare Department.”

He said the department needed to be “social worker-based”, like in some European countries.

“Right now, anyone can work there. Many do not know the Child Act. There have been instances when non-govermental organisations have told them what they could do.

“Paediatricians on the ground lack support from the department. That is a fact,” he added.

Here are Twentytwo13’s news highlights today.

NO DECISION ON FATE OF HAWK 108 JETS

Deputy Defence Minister Datuk Seri Ikmal Hisham Abdul Aziz said the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) has set up a committee to investigate a crash involving a Hawk Mk. 108 jet.

The investigation would cover various aspects, including operations and training. He added that it was too early to speculate on the fate of the jets.

Twentytwo13, in a report this afternoon, highlighted that it was premature to pin the RMAF Hawk crash on the aircraft’s age, poor training, and maintenance.

TAN SRI REBECCA STA MARIA REAPPOINTED TO APEC SECRETARIAT

Former secretary-general of the Ministry of International Trade and Industry, Tan Sri Dr Rebecca Sta Maria, was reappointed executive director of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Secretariat.

Sta Maria’s second term starts on Jan 1, 2022, and is for three years.

Since 2019, Sta Maria has worked on advancing the implementation of APEC member economies’ priorities.

“Cooperation between member economies plays a significant role in overcoming a crisis, such as Covid-19,” Sta Maria said.

“Strengthening the team of diplomats, experts and professionals at the secretariat is crucial as we continue to advance multilateral cooperation for a more inclusive and sustainable future.”

NEW SEAT FOR ABANG JO?

Sarawak Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg may vacate his Satok seat to contest in Gedong to help speed up development in the area.

The nine-term Satok assemblyman said he was considering his options for the state elections.

Gedong incumbent Datuk Naroden Majais said the area needed to be developed quickly so that the impact would spill over to Samarahan, Simunjan and Sebuyau.

SABAH STILL ATTRACTIVE TO JAPANESE TOURISTS

Japan Travel Bureau managing director Kiyoshi Fujita said Sabah remains a favourite destination.

Fujita made the remark after meeting Assistant Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister, Datuk Joniston Bangkuai.

“This is my first trip to Sabah, and I have already visited a few interesting spots that are sure to be popular with tourists from Japan,” said Fujita.

“Japanese tourists cannot wait to return to Sabah.”

FOUR OVERSEAS-BASED PLAYERS IN HARIMAU MALAYA TEAM

National football coach Tan Cheng Hoe has named Junior Eldstal (Chonburi), Dominic Tan (Police Tero), Luqman Hakim Shamsudin (Kortrijk) and Dion Cools (Midtjylland) for next month’s Asean Football Federation Cup.

The four are the only overseas-based players in the squad dominated by Johor Darul Ta’zim (seven players). Kedah and Selangor have four players, each.

Malaysia is in Group B with Vietnam, Indonesia, Cambodia, and Laos. Group A consists of hosts Singapore, Thailand, Myanmar, the Philippines, and Timor Leste.