Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, MP for Serdang, on the 21st of October 2015
1918 children currently being detained at detention centers for immigrants must be treated properly
I received a parliamentary reply yesterday to my question on the number of people who are currently being held at detention centres for immigrants nationwide. I was shocked to find out that there were 1918 children (‘kanak-kanak’ or KK) among the 71,362 detainees. This comprises almost 3% of total detainees.
The issue of children in detention centres for immigrants came to public attention in an Aljazeera 101 East documentary entitled “Malaysia’s Unwanted” which showed a small child in a detention centre where the journalist in question had entered as an undercover priest. The statistics given in the parliamentary reply clearly shows that this is not an isolated incident. In fact, there are children in each of the 13 detention centres with the highest number in Bekenu, Sarawak (299) and the lowest in Semuja, Sarawak (9).
The nations with the highest number of children are Myanmar (813), followed by Indonesia (422), Philippines (295) and Cambodia (121). These four nations make up 86% of the children who are in these detention centres.
I call upon the Minister of Home Affairs to do the following:
- Ensure that the welfare and safety of these children are given the highest priority in accordance to the provisions of the Convention of the Rights of the Child (CRC) of which Malaysia is a signatory.
- Work with the embassies of the countries involved especially among the ASEAN countries to expedite any process to resettle or repatriate these children together with their parents.
- Work with SUHAKAM, NGOs and other interested parties to allow these children, together with their parents (if applicable), to be released from these detention centres and housed in other more suitable accommodation.
As a start, I call upon the Minister of Home Affairs to organize a trip for interested MPs to visit a detention center in the Klang Valley (Bukit Jalil, KLIA or Semenyih) for us to examine the conditions under which these children are being detained.
Dr. Ong Kian Ming
Member of Parliament for Serdang