When they turn 18: Work option for street kids
Published on: Tuesday, March 10, 2015
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Kota Kinabalu: Street children making a nuisance of themselves in the State may soon be put to work, if above 18.Community Development and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Jainab Ahmad said these children will be rounded up along with beggars, loafers and those mentally unsound in an integrated operation from as early as this week.

"Instead of bringing in more foreign workers to work in our State as construction or plantation labourers, we thought it would be better to hire them instead," she said after a meeting on these issues here Monday.

"We must consider what we are going to do with these street children as soon as they turn 18? And besides, they have also learnt to speak our language and understand our culture well."

In the same vein Jainab pointed out this was not going to be a prelude to making them citizens.

"Most of the street children do not have any legal documents with them and are considered stateless. Therefore, the meeting we had earlier was to discuss ways to solve this problem," she said, adding that both the Filipino and Indonesian governments have refused to accept them.

"Most of them are born here and they have been around here for most their lives. They have also learnt and understand our culture," she said.

"Based on our statistics, there are 50, 000 Filipino street children and 150, 000 Indonesian street children from June 2007 to December 2014…we are not even sure if the number is precise…who knows? It could be more than that.

"I'm very worried that these street children will be involved in social problems such as drugs or become victims of human trafficking or end up being kidnapped. They might also end up being professional beggars and this would be an eyesore especially to tourists.

"Besides, we must also take into account the locals' welfare because there are some cases whereby these stateless people got married with the locals and do not have any marriage certificates. This will definitely be an issue because how can their children be issued birth certificates?

"There are also cases whereby some of them happened to enter Sabah legally for work purposes but as soon as their documents expire, they will flee and we consider them illegal immigrants," Jainab said.

Therefore, she said they have decided to form a committee to discuss and come up with working papers and once this is completed, they will bring it forward to the Chairman of the Technical Management Committee on Foreigners cum Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan.

The absence of a Philippine Consulate in the State had resulted in difficulties with tackling the problems involving those of Filipino descent who do not have any legal document.

She also gave figures the 'inflow' and 'outflow' of street children from the Welfare Protection Centre based on their ethnic groups from June 2007 to December 2014.

"The total inflow is 1,557 whereby 582 of them are Bajau, 684 Suluk, 59 Bugis, 14 Visaya, 14 Tatur, 8 Buton and 196 others. The total outflow on the other hand is 1,541 whereby 581 of them are Bajau, 677 Suluk, 59 Bugis, 14 of them are Visaya and Tatur respectively, 8 of the Buton ethnic group and the rest belong to other ethnic groups," she said.

According to her, the other 196 others are of Kagayan, Iyakan, Timor, Palau' and Pakistani descent.

Of the 1,557 street children who were placed at the centre 1,186 of them were males and 371 of them were females. A total of 234 of them were aged between six and twelve, 397 of them were between the age of 13 and 14 and 926 of them were between the age of 15 and 18, she said.

Jainab then went on stating that during their operations in 2014, a total of 80 beggars were caught whereby 13 of them were illegal immigrants, eight of them children and 22 were sent to the Desa Bina Diri Centre.

Eligible local children however, are referred to the Welfare Department and put up at the Children's Home at Beringgis, Papar.

"As of today, we have 18 street children with no legal documents placed at the Welfare Protection Centre. Thirteen of them are males and the rest females," she said, adding that it is difficult to determine the exact number of the children at the centre due to the continuous inflow and outflow.


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