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While Malaysia has the Ministry of Women, Family, and Community Development (KPWKM), an umbrella ministry that is responsible for over half a dozen different groups of people including children, there is no dedicated ministry of children that can focus on the issues concerning the 28.3% of Malaysia’s population.

As of November 2020, there are 4.77 million boys and 4.47 million girls in the country.

Children in Malaysia were already facing many challenges and violations prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and several Movement Control Orders (MCOs), both of which have only amplified the existing challenges.

“Child abuse, sexual acts against children, and neglect are common forms of violation to children in Malaysia,” Yeoh said, adding that during her time, KPWKM focused heavily on issues relating to children because of their vulnerability — the inability to protect themselves leading to harm being caused.

“We appointed the first Children’s Commissioner, launched the first child sex offenders registry, provided millions in grants to establish childcare in the workplace for our civil service, launched infographics for childcare providers and parents, partnered with Google to bring awareness videos on bad touch vs good touch for young children, provided WhatsApp services for Talian Kasih to make it more accessible and so many other ways to improve children safety.”

In her statement, the former deputy minister stressed that all these measures and steps will require dedicated resources and manpower in protecting the 9.24 million children.

“As such, we had then launched a study on creating an Agency for Children and we were also working on increasing multiple folds the 208 child protectors we have. Currently, a child protector takes up 80 children’s cases leaving them insufficient time for follow-ups. The actual ratio of protector and children is 1:45,142 and this is simply impossible for the protection of children to be effective,” she said.

“There were also preliminary meetings being held to restructure early childhood education and care (ECCE), recommendations for the Ministry of Home Affairs to simplify citizenship procedures for children involving Malaysian mothers, adoption process, foster care, and data sharing with the police.”

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