90 officials from 21 bodies partake in special workshop

WORKSHOP participants pose a photo with Minister of Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Development, Dato Sri Fatimah Abdullah
(seated centre). PHOTO: NUR AINA

KUCHING: A total of 90 representatives from 21 agencies, departments and associations attended the Roundtable Discussion on Child Adoption and Underage Marriage in Sarawak at Citadines Hotel, yesterday.

The workshop was also at tended by the Minister of Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Development, Dato Sri Fatimah Abdullah.

“In the workshop to establish a standard operation procedure (SOP) for the Child Adoption Management Guide in Sarawak last year, several issues requiring amendments as well as the creation of new regulations to the Adoption Ordinance (Chapter 91) were acknowledged to be brought to a discussion forum involving all related parties, “Among the issues identified are the recommendations to increase the age limit of adoption of children from the age of 18 to 21 years; and issues related to child adoption certificates issued in Sarawak to be consistent with the practice of the Ordinance and the Acts of Appointment in Sabah and Peninsular Malaysia without the identity of the biological parents,” said Fatimah.

Among the relevant issues are that Section 10, namely, power to provide for certain extraordinary forms of adoption. Section 10 (1); the State Executive Council may make rules; to regulate the adoption of children according to Chinese custom by heads of Chinese families for the purpose of providing heirs or successors for the deceased members of such families; and to regulate the adoption of adults among races in which such adoptions are recognised by custom.

“As such, we are here today to brainstorm, analyse and evaluate the inputs and feedbacks about to be shared by stakeholders and community leaders that are present today, on the feasibility of getting the relevant statute amended, “The result of today’s roundtable discussion will be the foundation for our Ministry to evaluate proposals for raising the age limit of a child that can be adopted from the age of 18 as stated under the Adoption Ordinance (Chapter 91) to the age of 21; establish the regulations required under Section 10 (1); as well as the issue of child adoption certificates as practised in Sabah and Peninsular Malaysia, “Globalisation, mobility and development have changed our social landscape. Our people are now more mobile due to employment opportunities outside their hometown or outside Sarawak; more foreigner s and fel low Malaysians are coming to our state, thus creating social challenges and issues related to relationships and the family institution leading to the need for adoption for various reasons,” she pointed out.

Additionally, the Ministry’s roundtable discussion yesterday also discussed concurrent agelimit issues for marriage which is must be above 18 years of age.

“Through this forum, we will have the opportunity to reflect on existing legislation, rules, operating procedures and information on issues related to marriage – civil, syariah and custom, “Therefore, I believe that a review should be made on the scope and jurisdiction of marriages in particular on age limits in accordance with the various type of marriages available in Sarawak to be relevant to the present day, “The Ministry took note of this sentiment and included issues regarding the age limit of marriage in this roundtable discussion,” she said.