The Borneo Post (Sabah)

Jobs for stateless children

- By Shalina Roseni

KOTA KINABALU: Legalizing ‘stateless’ children into the state’s workforce will be included in the paperwork drawn up by the Community Developmen­t and Consumer Affairs Ministry.

Its minister, Datuk Jainab Ahmad Ayid, however, stressed that the recommenda­tion, which will be included in the paperwork that will be presented to Technical Committee on Foreigners i n Sabah chairman Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan, is not a proposal to absorb them as Malaysian citizens or permanent residents.

Jainab explained that through the provision of special documents, these existing ‘workers’, 18 years and above, could be absorbed properly into the local workforce and simultaneo­usly deter them from getting involved in illegal activities that contribute to the rampancy of social ills in Sabah.

She said that the step could reduce the intake of new foreign workers and avoid the problem of foreigners who continued to stay in the state even though their papers had expired.

Jainab added that many of these foreigners also continued to work illegally in places such as constructi­on sites and farms.

The paperwork was drawn up to get beggars, homeless and idle citizens, mental patients and especially children without documents or stateless kids, off the streets in Sabah.

“We have to face the state’s very ‘real’ issues. Social problem has become rampant. We don’t want our younger generation to be affected by issues arising from stateless children so we must look into the welfare of the locals,” said Jainab.

“We are gathering recommenda­tions for the paperwork to tackle these and other issues but for now, it would be premature to announce it,” said the minister.

A total of 1,557 children between the ages of six and 18 have been taken off the streets of Kota Kinabalu and placed in Kinarut’s Rumah Perlindung­an Ehsan, a detention centre for undocument­ed children between 2007 and 2014.

While the majority of these children have been claimed by their families from their country, as of March 9, this year, 18 children, 13 male and five female, remain at the centre.

According to Jainab, the Special Task Force from the Home Affairs Ministry will head an operation to tackle the issue of street children soon.

Relevant agencies such as local authoritie­s, district councils, municipali­ties, police, immigratio­n and the Social Welfare Department will be invited to participat­e i n the operation.

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