LETTER | Since the establishment of the Office of the Children’s Commissioner (OCC) in 2019, the highest complaints received by this office are child protection issues whilst protection connotes protection from sexual offences, abuse and negligence.
The complaints of sexual assault are chronically critical on account of the traditional resolution of problems done through the payment of penance (village mode), sodomy committed against students by teachers and a few sexual and physical abuse cases against children in shelter homes.
These are the few cases that were being reported, not to mention the cases that went unreported.
The abovementioned cases were successfully channelled and acted by the relevant authorities, owing to this office’s role and function as an oversight body in coordinating all relevant parties to uphold justice and protect children.
However, this office will continue to work restrictively if it is still inadequately resourced, non-independent and with a deficiency in capacity and complaint system.
Henceforth, the establishment of an independent Children Commission with its Act is crucial in protecting and promoting the rights of all children in Malaysia holistically and systematically.
To date, more than 50 countries worldwide have established their respective oversight bodies for children.
It is not only limited to the national level namely New Zealand and Norway, but it could also be found at the local level such as Australia and the US, taking into account the local context.
Despite its children population being lesser than Malaysia, New Zealand and Australia have bequeathed various oversight bodies for the rights of children at the national and local levels, demonstrating the placement of children’s rights at the heart of every development in the countries.
In welcoming the 60th Malaysia Day, it is timely that a gift of a Children Commission to the children of Malaysia be realised.
A Children Commission that is endowed with the function and mandate enshrined in a specific Act will become a body with the responsibility to advocate and enhance the rights of children, specifically children of the vulnerable community including persons with disabilities and rural communities in Sabah and Sarawak.
Thus, OCC would like to appeal to have the gift for all children in Malaysia be presented as a testimony of Malaysia Day which is long overdue.
Author is the children’s commissioner at Suhakam.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.