“Not enough child protection officers? Rina, you are the minister; do something!”

DATUK Seri Rina Mohd Harun has received an earful for lamenting on social media that there are not enough child protection officers under the Social Welfare Department.

DAP lawmaker Kasthuri Patto reminded Rina that she was the Women, Family and Community Development minister, adding: “So, what are you waiting for?”

“A statement like this should not have come from a minister holding executive powers in the country,” Kasthuri said in a statement today (Sept 19).

The Batu Kawan MP also asked whether Rina had raised this in Cabinet meetings and what she had done to ensure the number of child protection officers is increased.

“The lack of manpower in terms of child protection officers is not something new,” she added.

Kasthuri Patto (Pic credit: PGA)

“When Pakatan Harapan was in Government, the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry helmed by Datuk Seri Wan Azizah then had already identified the issue and was in the pipeline to recruit more officers to assist in safeguarding our children.

“Unfortunately, the Government changed in 2020 and this plan was not followed through and remained buried for two years, until yesterday, when Rina made the statement after the two cruel child abuse cases.”

Kasthuri was referring to the latest suspected cases of child abuse involving an eight-year-old boy and his six-year-old sibling, allegedly at the hands of their aunt and uncle.

One of them had attempted to escape through a window on the fourth floor of a building, leading the Selangor Fire and Rescue Department (Bomba) to come to their rescue.

After visiting the children at the Ampang Hospital yesterday, Rina said the number of child protection officers under the Social Welfare Department needs to be increased immediately to handle cases of child abuse and neglect.

Kasthuri asked if Rina would have made the call had she not been in the presence of the two victims.

“What have you done for the last 20 months?”

She also noted that Rina, back in January 2021, had announced the approval of 224 child protection and moral officers and that it was the first phase of the recruitment of some 1,122 workers.

“The ministry had 264 officers at that time. What did you do in the period of 20 months after the announcement?” Kasthuri asked.

The discussion on the need for child protection officers cannot be made without talking about the need for the Social Workers Profession Bill, which should be tabled in Parliament in the coming sitting, she added.

She called on the Government, particularly Rina, as the guardian of the rights and welfare of women, family and community development, including children, to realise the dream of a children’s ministry or at least an agency or department specific for children.

Kasthuri also urged the Government to table a pending report at the UN Human Rights Council meeting on Malaysia’s shortcomings, achievements and the way forward in protecting the rights and welfare of all children in the country, noting that Malaysia is a signatory to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).

“As a minister in Cabinet, Rina need not lament on social media for brownie points on what she ought to do; actually roll up your sleeves and do it.

“Just get it done, Rina. You have the power to do so.

“Like all Malaysians, I don’t wish to read statements by ministers and deputy ministers of what should be done. Instead, I want to see statements of them actually doing it and getting it done,” Kasthuri added. – Sept 19, 2022


Main pic credit: Berita Harian

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