KOTA KINABALU: Police have vowed to take action against their personnel found responsible for handcuffing a young Palauh (sea gypsy) boy who was arrested with several others in Sabah’s east coast Lahad Datu district today.
The boy was picked up along with four other women and 10 children, all from the Palauh community, after a photo of a shirtless boy begging for money with a “gun” in his hand went viral on social media earlier today.
In the photo, the boy could be seen standing next to a car at a traffic light junction and holding up a gun, later found to be a toy, while a woman carrying a toddler could also be seen on a road island in the background.
Besides this photo, another photo of the boy in handcuffs and holding the toy gun in his left hand was also shared widely in social media, including WhatsApp.
Lahad Datu police chief Nasri Mansor said they will investigate the person behind the handcuffing of the boy.
“Such action is not right. We will probe who did it and who viralled the photo and take firm action against the individuals, regardless of whether it’s an ordinary policeman or an officer,” he told FMT.
Section 83A of the Child Act 2001 (Act 611) states that a child who is arrested shall not be handcuffed unless the offence with which he is arrested for is a grave crime; or the child forcibly resists arrest or attempts to evade arrest.
Under the same Act, the media is not allowed to report and publish, in print or electronic medium, a child’s name, address, educational institution or other related particulars, including photos, that could lead to identification of the minor against whom action is taken.
Meanwhile, Nasri said the women and children, including six girls, were picked up following the incident at the junction at Taman Aman Jaya in Bandar Sri Perdana at 10.30am today.
“Following the viral photo on Facebook, we sent a police team to the area. The policemen introduced themselves to the women and children, and carried out an inspection.
“The people, aged between six months and 31, were found to have no identification documents or valid papers to stay in Sabah,” he said.
Based on their investigations, he said the women and children were begging in the area.
“The toy gun held by the boy was bought by the mother. It was meant for him to play with the other children,” Nasri said.
He said those detained have been brought to the district police station for further investigation and action may be taken under immigration laws.
He said police have sought the assistance of the Immigration Department to check their particulars.
The Palauh are a nomadic community of seafarers, most of whom are stateless. They live mainly on boats out at sea off Lahad Datu and other nearby districts on the east coast.