A RESIDENT of Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, wants the authorities to look into a group of children seen smoking and loitering at the Api-Api Commercial Centre in the capital.
The 69-year-old retiree, who wished to be known as Justina, said the presence of children dressed in ragged clothes and indulging in unhealthy activities was disturbing.
“Recently, I saw a group of four boys walking aimlessly at the Api-Api Centre in the evening. They appeared to be below the age of 12 and they were smoking.
“This must be tackled as it could lead to social problems. These boys are already smoking at such a young age. Who knows what they are capable of next.”
However, she felt that ridding the streets of such children was not a solution.
“The authorities need to take comprehensive action like getting to the root cause of why the children are neglected in the first place.”
She added that enforcement personnel should patrol areas frequented by tourists to ensure they were not harassed by vagrants, beggars, and street children.
Kota Kinabalu City Hall (DBKK) Public Relations and Complaints Department director Syron A. Tunggolou said the complaint had been forwarded to its enforcement unit.
“Our enforcement director (Abdul Mukti Muchlish) has taken note of the complaint.
“In fact, DBKK enforcement officers conduct 24-hour patrols at the area.
“Usually, children (rescued from the streets by the authorities) will be sent to the state Welfare Department if they are Malaysians.
“Otherwise, we will hand them over to the temporary detention centre in Kimanis (Papar district).”
She said DBKK enforcement team would beef up its patrols at identified areas, along with other enforcement agencies, to tackle the street children problem.