Of Our Work
work of CPS takes place in a variety of contexts. These include
local, national and international contexts. All of these come
from the increasing recognition of both the extent and the implications
of child neglect and abuse.
UN CONVENTION of the RIGHTS OF THE CHILD (CRC)
the international level, the adoption by the United Nations of
the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1989 marked a major
step forward in establishing global benchmarks for our response
to children, especially those in need. Malaysia is a signatory
to the CRC, which sets out the basic rights which any child should
expect. It therefore provides CPS with a major context of our
work, as it should for all of us.
and LOCAL: MALAYSIA and PENANG
from this, CPS also works within the initiatives and parameters
set out by the Federal and (Penang) State governments, respectively.
There has been growing public and government awareness about the
issues related to child neglect and children at risk in our country,
one of the major contexts for which is:
"Rapid industrialisation and the resultant rural-urban migration,.....as
well as changing lifestyles and negative influences, has given
rise to various social problems, such as breakdown of the family
unit, drug addiction, child abuse, marital breakdown and runaways."
(Para 18.49, Seventh Malaysia Plan)
Family conflicts, including violence against women, are being
reported more to the police and other agencies. There is increasing
family and community breakdown, both of which are receiving more
attention from government and non-government organisations. Reported
incidences of children being abused are on the rise and the implications
for child neglect and abandonment are serious. Government and
non-government organisations like CPS are attempting to respond
to the consequences.
part of its response to the issues facing children, the federal
government is constantly reviewing its legislative and statutory
duties. The enactment of the Child Act in 2001 was a consolidation
of a number of different laws which applied to children previously.
It was also a recognition of the many issues facing children and
our duty as a society to them.
The Bill provides for the establishment and procedures of child
protection teams at State- and district- levels. It also provides
a wide definition relating to the kinds of children who may need
protection. They include children who are, or who are likely to
be, physically injured, emotionally injured or sexually abused
by their guardian(s); children whose guardians can not guarantee
their protection, through neglect or inadequacy; children who
are falling into bad association, or are exposed to moral danger;
children whose guardian is unable or unwilling to provide the
basic necessities, or who cannot safeguard their health; children
whose behaviour patterns are a danger either to themselves
or others; children who are found abandoned; and children who
are found begging.
You will see from this list that there are many, many children
who are to be found in one or more of these situations. The Government,
under the Ministry of Social Welfare, has taken responsibility
for providing for children who are abused. Organisations such
as CPS then provide for children who are neglected or abandoned,
supplementing provisions available for children in need and at
PENANG STRATEGY PLAN
a Penang-based organisation, the work of CPS also falls within
the overall objectives of Penang state government policy. In its
Strategic Plan, "Penang into the 21st Century", the
former Penang state government identified overall objectives towards
which it will work. It included children as a special needs group,
and also recognised that tackling poverty is crucially important,
in and of itself but also in order to safeguard the future of
children at risk. The present Penang state government shares
Many of the CPS children come from poor homes. Although our primary
aim is to eventually re-unite the children with their parent(s),
it is often the case that the home background shows little improvement
over the years, much of this traceable to lack of basic facilities
(including decent housing) and lack of proper income. This can
exacerbate any individual failings amongst family members that
may have caused the neglect of the child in the first place.
We need to recognise and support, therefore, overall state
government objectives such as the creation of a 'more equitable, integrated
and caring society' where hard-core poverty is eradicated and
general and relative poverty reduced. This is important. There
are many studies, international and local, which show the link
between poverty and negative effects on children. Malnutrition
stunts physical and intellectual growth. Lack of household income
may lead to dispersal of family members in a desperate search
for jobs. It may see family members, including both parents of
young children, having to work long hours, leading to neglect
and abandonment of children. It may see children also being asked
to work to supplement family incomes, leading to a lack of schooling,
a compromised future and a lack of adequate protection. Poverty
may increase the kinds of pressures that lead to family breakdown.
The Penang Strategic Plan is one document which clearly urges that steps be taken towards the
promotion of a 'caring society in which the welfare of the socially
disadvantaged is adequately provided for'.
This involves a partnership between government and people, and
needs the positive participation of people like yourselves to
make it attainable. Such provision for those facing difficulties,
such as children in need, includes "improving facilities
and services such as halfway houses, self-help groups, shelters
and crisis centres with the assistance of the private sector and
socio-civic groups." (Para. 10.5, Penang into the 21st Century).
In addition, the State Government is committed to improving institutional
support for social development, which includes encouraging NGOs
to venture into new areas of social provision such as childcare
and community-based services.
The modest efforts of CPS would fit into this conception. We thank
you and rely on your support to continue and expand our work.
federal government is in the process of reviewing the existing
legislation, to tighten up certain areas and to respond to feedback
from stakeholders and organisations about present procedures and
provisions. It can also be anticipated that the major responsibility
for child protection in this country will continue to reside with
the Department of Social Welfare.
But we must understand that the legislation and government agencies
by themselves cannot deal with the issues of children at risk.
All of us need to be responsible. The development of a stronger
civil society and the ethic of community initiative to tackle
the major social problems in our society are essential if we are
to build a society and a country where those less fortunate than
ourselves can be allowed to prosper and reach their full potential.
The coming years will need to see an expansion of initiatives
to tackle the problems facing children in our society. Not only
will this involve expanding secure environments (shelters or foster
homes, for example) in which children can be placed, but will
also involve the facilitation of local, community-based initiatives
(such as day centres, creches and play centres) where provision
for children and for carers can help maintain family and community
cohesiveness with creative outside support.
CPS is one of a variety of non-government and semi-government
organisations which have already become involved in the issues.
In our commitment to providing for those children who come into
our care, we also are committed to supporting wider initiatives
to deal with issues of children at risk.
Your support will be crucial.