Undocumented children turning 18 during MCO cut off from applying for adoption, guardianship

Chang debating the Temporary Measures for Reducing the Impact of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (Covid-19) Bill at the DUN sitting today (Nov 9, 2020). Screenshot taken from the Sarawak Public Communications Unit (Ukas) livestream of DUN proceedings.

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By Ling Hui

KUCHING, Nov 9: Undocumented children who turned 18 during the Movement Control Order (MCO) period could not apply for citizenship and thus were not eligible for adoption or guardianship.

Bukit Assek assemblywoman Irene Mary Chang Oi Ling said this has resulted in undocumented children being forced into an awkward situation of being “neither here nor there”.

“During the MCO period from March 18 until May 12, the government departments were closed and most were working from home.

“And due to social distancing, the district officers could not meet up with these undocumented children nor the parents who want to adopt them.

“These children were therefore, during this time, not able to apply for guardianship and adoption under the Guardianship of Infants Ordinance or the Adoption Ordinance.

“So, what happened to these children? They are now neither here nor there,” she said.

The limitations from the lockdown amid the Covid-19 pandemic has restricted the application process for these children to become legal citizens to be adopted.

With that, Irene urged Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas who tabled the Temporary Measures for Reducing the Impact of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (Covid-19) Bill today to include these two ordinances into the bill.

She pointed out that none of these were mentioned in the Covid-19 Bill tabled at the State Legislative Assembly (DUN) earlier today.

“Now I propose that the Section 6 of this Bill to include these two ordinances to enable the officers from district offices and even the court to accept applications of these children who turned 18 during MCO time,” she said. — DayakDaily