PETALING JAYA: The Commissioner for Children, when appointed, needs to have enforcement and compliance authority, says the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam).
“If you want to protect the children’s interests, but have no actual authority, it will not be effective. Enforcement and compliance are very important,” said Suhakam chairman Datuk Dr Rahmat Mohamad.
In welcoming the government’s move to appoint a designated commissioner, he said such efforts would allow the government to focus on the many issues pertaining to children.
Earlier yesterday, the Prime Minister announced that the Cabinet had agreed to appoint a Commissioner for Children under Suhakam to deal with cases of abuse and social problems related to children.
While the Prime Minister did not elaborate on the specifics, government officials said the appointment is a short-term measure before an independent Child Commission can be set up, following passage of a separate Act in Parliament.
“These are among the ‘quick wins’ introduced by the government. We did have that role before, but the previous government did not appoint anyone to the position. We will now be reactivating the function,” said Rahmat.
The last person to hold the position of children’s commissioner was Datuk Noor Aziah Mohd Awal from 2019 to 2022.
Rahmat also noted that the commissioner would require close cooperation from various government ministries and agencies.
“There will be cooperation from the Social Welfare Department in terms of children’s welfare, the Education Ministry for students, the state religious bodies if it involves tahfiz schools and even the Commu-nications and Digital Ministry if it involves child pornography.
“Aside from that, there are issues relating to children of refugees and that involves the cooperation from the Home Ministry.”
On Jan 7, Law and Institutional Reforms Minister Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said proposed an independent children’s commission to provide a deep understanding of legal processes related to children.
She first proposed the setting up of the commission in 2021.
Azalina also said she will discuss with Education Minister Fadhlina Sidek on creating awareness about sexual offences against children at primary and secondary levels.
Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri on Jan 5 gave assurances that her ministry would improve the running of relevant agencies under its purview that are involved in the protection of children.