Now is the time to ask those who will make up our next government: 'What will you do for the children in Malaysia?'
The upcoming general election will be historic for Malaysia. The run-up to the vote is an opportunity for us to ask our soon-to-be elected representatives how they will tackle the many challenges faced by children in Malaysia today.
The Child Rights Coalition Malaysia highlights three priority areas: birth registration, child protection and access to education.
We urge the public to raise the following questions when meeting with candidates.
Although progress has been made, children continue to face difficulties in obtaining a birth certificate.
This can have wide-ranging repercussions: without a birth certificate, children can be denied access to education, healthcare, and other basic social services.
For Malaysian children, a lack of a birth certificate can also affect their chances of applying for a MyKad when they reach 12 years of age.
Children like Yanesha, who is suing the National Registration Department’s director-general, among others, have difficulty enrolling in government schools and sitting for examinations.
Question to the candidates: What do you propose to solve the issue of children without birth certificates in Malaysia?
The number of reported cases of child abuse in Malaysia has been steadily increasing over the past three years.
A significant number of cases of violence against children go unreported every year, resulting in serious harm and death to children that could have otherwise been prevented.
Under- and non-reporting of violence stems largely from the fact that abuse of children, especially sexual abuse, continues to be a taboo subject within Malaysian society.
The lack of registration and by extension, regulation and monitoring of children’s homes, puts children at risk, as substantiated by the cases of abuse in children’s homes, including government-run homes.
Malaysia is a destination, transit and source country for child trafficking. Cases of baby selling, the death of William Yau Zhen Zhong, the kidnapping of Nayati Moodliar, not to mention the many unnamed children who suffer from abuse demonstrate there is much to be done.
Question to the candidates: What will you do to make our communities safe for children?
Access to education
Children with disabilities, children living in poverty and indigenous children can also face significant hurdles in accessing education.
Many children do not have access to formal education, as government schools do not generally accept non-Malaysians or undocumented children.
While on remand, children face restrictions on their freedom of movement and have significantly less access to education than children serving sentences of imprisonment.
Question to the candidates: What steps will you take to ensure education for all in Malaysia?
We often say “children are our future”. Now is the time to ask those who will make up our next government: “What will you do in the present for the children in Malaysia?”
Child Rights Coalition Malaysia background
Child Rights Coalition members are:
Childline Malaysia – Childline Malaysia is a non-profit project of the Malaysian Children TV Programme Foundation. In November 2010, Childline Malaysia established the 24-hour national helpline for Malaysia known as “15999 Childline”.
Malaysian Child Resource Institute (MCRI) – MCRI-Malaysian Child Resource Institute promotes the healthy development of children by raising awareness on the rights of the child and advocating for better standards in the provision of early childhood care and education. We also provide research to inform and influence policy.
National Early Childhood Intervention Council (NECIC) – NECIC serves as a forum to discuss, advocate, monitor and review all policies related to early childhood intervention. The NECIC promotes and emphasises the crucial components of effective early childhood intervention.
Malaysian Care – Malaysian Care offers diversified services, such as residential care and community services and is strongly committed to community development.
Protect and Save the Children (PS the Children) – P.S. The Children’s mission is to create safe and responsive communities by advocating and establishing effective prevention education, strengthening treatment and support services, while forging synergistic partnerships within communities.
Voice of the Children (VoC) – VoC’s mission is to advocate for and promote law and policy reform to ensure that the rights of every child in Malaysia are protected and no longer at risk of violation.
Yayasan Chow Kit (YCK) – YCK is a 24-hour crisis and drop-in centre, providing meals, activities, therapy, case management, and educational programmes for at-risk children and youth of Chow Kit.
The article was prepared by the Child Rights Coalition Malaysia. For further details contact [email protected]