Suhakam unit laments ministries’ lack of response to pressing issues surrounding children in Malaysia

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Principal assistant secretary to OCC Izyan Hazwani Ahmad said requests have been to meet four ministries since 2019, which have so far only resulted in a meeting each with the Women Development, Family And Community Development ministry in 2020 and Ministry of Health and its former minister Datuk Seri Adham Baba in January 2021. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Principal assistant secretary to OCC Izyan Hazwani Ahmad said requests have been to meet four ministries since 2019, which have so far only resulted in a meeting each with the Women Development, Family And Community Development ministry in 2020 and Ministry of Health and its former minister Datuk Seri Adham Baba in January 2021. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, April 20 — The Office of the Children’s Commissioner (OCC) for Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) said it was disappointed that repeated attempts to engage with several ministries have been unsuccessful.

Principal assistant secretary to OCC Izyan Hazwani Ahmad said requests have been to meet four ministries since 2019, which have so far only resulted in a meeting each with the Women Development, Family And Community Development ministry (KPWKM) in 2020 and Ministry of Health (MOH) and its former minister Datuk Seri Adham Baba in January 2021.

“As for the Ministry of Education (MOE) and Home Ministry (KDN), to date we have not received any response from them despite our many requests through letters and through the special secretary to the ministries.

“A request to meet the new MOH minister, Khairy Jamaluddin, has only gone unanswered. At the moment we only have a scheduled meeting on April 25 to meet Datin Seri Hajah Nor Zamani Abdol Hamid, the education director-general,” Izyan said during a press conference today.

Even then, Izyan said MOE only responded to question the OCC for wanting to conduct a survey on the effectiveness of home-based teaching and learning (PdPR).

She said they had a case of an undocumented child in Miri, Sarawak, who needed to sit for the SPM exam. When they then wanted to do the survey, an MOE official told them they would need official permissions first.

Izyan said the OCC informed the official they would not be requesting permission from MOE.

“We want to state that Suhakam is a national human rights institute and is independent, we can conduct investigations or surveys without needing the permission from MOE,” said Izyan.

“As for KDN, of the 20 letters of recommendations we sent only five were replied to

“Apart from that OCC has found it difficult to find speakers from these ministries for webinars on issues like stateless children which they said was under the purview of KDN and no other ministry.

“We believe that the issue of children is the responsibility of the KPWKM, MOH, MOE, KDN and the Human Resources as children without citizenship are denied basic human rights, documentation, education, healthcare and their futures are at risk of exploitation,” she added.

The OCC was formed in 2019 and began full operations in May 2020 with three full time officers and one secretary.

They are in charge of three main portfolios: advocating and policy making, education and promotion, as well as handling complaints and monitoring.

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