“Our social development agenda is structured in tandem with our economic development agenda.
“We have placed children in the forefront of its development agenda in line with the country’s Vision 2020 mission. We believe that investing in children development not only equates to investing in the country’s future human capital bank, it is also a holistic approach to human capital development of our citizens.
“This is evidently featured with the inclusion of multiple national development strategies, like the upcoming 10th Malaysian Plan 2011-2015 in which the government is prioritising the protection and well being of children.”
Sharing Malaysia’s proactive experience in addressing child rights issues at a three-day high-level meeting (Nov 4 to 6, 2010) here, Heng said several key milestones had been achieved. They are:
- Ratifying the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in 1995. Malaysia first signed the Convention with an initial 12 reservations, which we are gradually withdrawing in stages. In 1998, Malaysia withdrew 5 reservations: Articles 22, 28 (1) (b) (c) (d) and (e), 40 (3) and (4), 44 and 45. Just recently, in July 2010, Malaysia went on to withdraw 3 more reservations – Article 1, 3, and 15, leaving another 5 remaining reservations (articles 2, 7, 14, 28(1) and 37). At present, Malaysia is also studying the possibility of ratifying the 2 Optional Protocols under the CRC;
- In 2004, the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development was established, and became the primary government agency to handle issues of concern relating to family, women and children. This laid the foundations for an effective and operational child protection system, whereby thereafter, the Child Division was set up in 2005 under one of the ministry’s agencies, the Department of Social Welfare. This move allowed the Government to handle and administer matters pertaining to children more effectively; and
- The development of effective legislation and policies to institutionalise and operationalise child protection. These include the Child Act 2001, as well as the National Policy on Children and the National Child Protection Policy, as well as their corresponding Plans of Action, which were approved by the government in July 2009.
Heng said the implementation of measures that reflected the government commitment to children under the 10th Malaysia Plan include:
- MEASURES to ensure the protection and well-being of children by enhancing the quality of childcare services;
- STRENGTHENING related support programmes including capacity building of caregivers and upgrading existing welfare institutions such as rehabilitation centres and child welfare homes; and
- SCREENING of child carers by the Royal Malaysian Police Force is one example aimed at addressing child abuse issues.