KUALA LUMPUR: A new law is being mulled to set up an independent Children Commission Office dedicated towards issues affecting the nation's young, says Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said.
"The government will enact a special Act to make the Children Commission Office an independent body to serve as a watchdog on issues affecting children in the country.
"It will cover not only legal issues but cover all aspects affecting children," the Minister in the Prime Minister's Department in charge of law and institutional reforms said at a press conference on Thursday (March 16).
Although a Children's Commissioner was recently appointed, Azalina said that the role had limitations as it came under the purview of the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam).
"We feel that the commission needs to be an independent office as it would be ideal in playing a more effective role," she added.
Azalina also said the move was necessary in light of the large number of children in the country which should be given due attention in line with the Malaysia Madani concept.
"Based on the Statistics Department, there were 9.3 million children in the country in 2020.
"Of this, 49.9% are males and 51.1% are females," she said.
With an independent commission, she said that children in the country will have a dedicated office to refer to if the need arises in the future.
In January, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim announced that the government would appoint a Children's Commissioner under Suhakam in an effort to address abuse and social issues among children.
On March 8, Dr Farah Nini Dusuki, a senior lecturer at Universiti Malaya’s law faculty, was appointed as the Children’s Commissioner for a three-year term.
Dr Farah, who was present at the press conference, welcomed the proposal for an independent commission.
"We don't want to be reactive and only act when things happen but we want to be proactive to prevent issues from arising.
"To do that, we must listen to our children," she said.
Meanwhile, Azalina said that her office will work closely with Dr Farah on the drafting of the new law.
She said that the draft Bill is expected to be tabled in Parliament later this year once the Cabinet gives its approval.