Women’s ministry to come up with extensive background check system for child sex offenders

KUCHING, Sept 29: The Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development is proposing a more robust online background check system for employers and teachers, especially those operating institutions involving young children, to access and screen their employees or potential employees.

Its deputy minister Hannah Yeoh, at a town hall session at Taman Sahabat here today, said this was to prevent those convicted for crimes against children, to be around children.

She said such a system had never been implemented in Malaysia before and it is high time for her ministry to roll out such system to protect children from being victimised or sexually abused by such offenders or criminals.

“There are many people in this nation that work with children on a daily basis yet we do not know their background, whether they are safe to be around children or not.

“They drive the children to school as transporters, the nanny at home looking after them, the security guard at their school compound, the teachers, counselors, the uztaz, the priest, the Sunday school teachers, but nobody is vetting or screening them whether they are fit to be near your children.

“I want to focus on a system and how can we improve so that our children can live in an environment that is safer for them. That is my ultimate goal in the next five years,” she said at the event organised by the Movement for Change Sarawak (MoCS).

Yeoh explained that so far, the closest thing to the system was the “Daftar Kanak-Kanak” programme that is being maintained under The Child Act 2001, which she cited as very outdated.

She said the ministry had recorded over 7,000 sexual crime cases with convictions against children in Malaysia, but only 300 plus names were registered in the “Daftar Kanak-Kanak” list.

“Meaning the list is incomplete. So our aim is to be able to come up with a full screening, when you want to hire anybody you should be able to check his name against this list and make sure he has no conviction on any crimes not just against children, because if he is a thief, his credibility is at stake and should not be trusted with your children.

“We found out that out of more than 100 courts across Malaysia, only about 20 have online systems. Therefore we need to upgrade all the courts in the country to be able to have this online system that is accessible to employers,” said Yeoh.

Yeoh and MoCS founder Francis Siah cutting the ribbon in symbolic to open the town hall session.

This would mean for the government to spend some money and budget for the system, she added.

She explained that she would need to lobby for it to the cabinet before rolling out the system, which would take some time.

“To roll out a system requires minimum half a year and therefore those who thinks things can be done in 100 days I can tell you that is not possible. If there are reforms that I can do with a stroke of a pen the I will do it.

“But if its a system or complementary system, those who work in a bank will know, you cannot just roll it out in 100 days. It takes time to build and develop,” said Yeoh, urging the people to be patient as her ministry would work it out. — DayakDaily