KOTA KINABALU: The special shelter for the street children around the city should be immediately opened as their begging antics continue to haunt motorists.
Kota Kinabalu MP Chan Fong Hin said though the state government had announced the Kota Kinabalu Special Shelter for street children on Jan 31, these children were still posing danger not only to themselves but also to motorists.
He urged the state Community Development and People's Well-being Ministry to immediately make the Kota Kinabalu shelter operational as there should not be any further delay by the state government in finding solutions for the perennial problem.
"However, it has been a whole week and the stateless kids have continued with their shenanigans on the busy streets in the Kota Kinabalu city centre, knocking on car windows and frightening road users without any heed to their own personal safety," he said in a statement Tuesday (Feb 7).
Chan, who is Deputy Agriculture and Food Security Minister, said that he had spoken to relevant parties including newly appointed Community Development and People's Well-being Minister Datuk James Ratib to speed up the opening of the shelter.
Ratib informed him that they were in the final stages to open the shelter.
"I contacted James Ratib who informed me that they are taking action now to do procurement for food for the children, and these stateless kids can then be brought into the shelter soon.
"There should be no further delay in taking these stateless kids in as it would deteriorate the public’s confidence in the Sabah unity government," Chan said.
The street kids shelter in Kota Kinabalu will be the first and depending on its success in resolving the problem, it would be extended to other major towns in the state where similar problems exist.
On Monday (Feb 6), Ratib told reporters that the government had allocated funds for such protective shelters to be set up in Tawau and Sandakan though Lahad Datu district would not be included due to security reasons.
He said the children would be kept at shelters for a period and given guidance and taught living skills as part of efforts to stop them from begging on the streets.
Many of the street children are believed to be stateless or undocumented and in recent years, children of pelahu from the East coast of Sabah, have been seen along main traffic intersections begging.
Sometimes the children's elders also join them to beg.
Sabah welfare laws only allow for citizens to be assisted and taken in by government institutions.
But the state government overcame the problem of undocumented children by building special protective shelters to assist them with proper living skills.
"They are being given special privileges. They are taken in because they receive guidance on community living skills and to be more independent without posing a problem to the community and the image of the city," he added.