Sabah CM: Temporary centres to house homeless children within state

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

KOTA KINABALU, Nov 28 — Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor today said that the state will set up a temporary shelter for homeless children mostly from the Pa’lau community, who end up begging in busy areas of the city.

He said the pilot project is expected to start in the state capital, with an RM250,000 renovation on an unoccupied government quarters, which is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

"The temporary shelter is the first step is to take in children loitering and begging in the city and keep them there for a maximum of three months.

"We will provide basic living skill training, community and civic skills, and other basic knowledge to these children before they are released back to their parents or guardians," said Hajiji during the question and answer session of the state assembly sitting today.

His answer was read by the assistant minister in the chief minister’s department Datuk Abidin Madingkir.

He said the programme will target Pa'lau children, and their parents or guardians, who are taken in during operations.

Before leaving and being released, their parents or children would be given a warning to make sure their children do not end up begging in the streets again.

The operations will be handled by the state internal affairs office and welfare department with help from local authorities like the police and immigration department. The police volunteer corps (Rela) will be in charge of the 24 hour security at these centres.

Health checks will also be conducted before entry and release of the children

Hajiji said that the initiative was in line with the Geneva Convention on the rights of a child, which puts emphasis on child protection and prevention of risks including exploitation.

The Child Act 2001 also prevents children from being involved in begging activities that endanger their health and wellbeing.

Hajiji said that presence of the undocumented migrants or "street urchins” around the city, usually begging near traffic lights, gives a negative image and the wrong perception of the state.

"So we are taking proactive measures to help deal with the problem in the long term," he said.

The Pa’lau community is a seafaring community who are usually found around coastal areas.