Minister Rina Harun should just increase number of Child Protection Officers, not lament on social media: MP Kasthuri

Media statement by DAP Member of Parliament for Batu Kawan Kasthuri Patto on Monday 19th September 2022 in Batu Kawan, Penang:

Don’t lament on social media, Rina. You are the Minister – just get the job done with no delay!

Yesterday, Minister for Women, Family and Community Development Rina Harun stated that “the number of Child Protection Officers under the Social Welfare Department needs to be increased immediately, to handle cases of child abuse and neglect”.

So, what are you waiting for, Rina?

A statement like this should not have come from a Minister holding executive powers in the country.

Did she raise this in the Cabinet meeting? What has she done to ensure the number of Child Protection Officers are increased?

The lack of manpower in terms of Child Protection Officers is not something new and when Pakatan Harapan was in Government, the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development helmed by Datuk Seri Wan Azizah then had already identified the issue of a lack in Child Protection Officers 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 2 years, until yesterday, when Rina made the statement after the 2 cruel child abuse cases.

Would she have made the call for more Child Protection Officers had she not been in the presence of these 2 little victims of abuse?

The discussion on the need of 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.

In January 2021, Rina stated that 224 Child Protection Officers and Moral Officers have been approved by the Government which is the first phase of the recruitment of 1122 workers. The Ministry had 264 officers at that time. What did you do in the period of 20 months after the announcement?

In addition to that, I call for the Government, particularly Rina Harun, 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.

As a Minister in the Cabinet, Rina need not lament on social media for brownie points on what she ought to do instead of actually rolling up her sleeves and doing it.

Just get it done, Rina. You have the power to do so. As a signatory to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, I also call on the Government to table the report to be submitted at the UN Human Rights Council meeting on Malaysia’s shortcomings, achievements and the way forward on protecting the rights and welfare of all children in the country.

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 Patto
Member of Parliament for Batu Kawan

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