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Shocking! 1,918 children held at Malaysian immigration detention centres

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Ong Kian Ming was shocked to discovered that almost three per cent of the over 70,000 detainees held at immigration detention centres nation-wide are childen.

I received a parliamentary reply (on 20 October 2015) to my question on the number of people who are currently being held at detention centres for immigrants nationwide.

I was shocked to find out that there were 1918 children (‘kanak-kanak’ or KK) among the 71,362 detainees. This comprises almost 3 per cent of total detainees.

The issue of children in detention centres for immigrants came to public attention in an Aljazeera 101 East documentary entitled “Malaysia’s Unwanted”, which showed a small child in a detention centre where the journalist in question had entered as an undercover priest.

The statistics given in the parliamentary reply clearly shows that this is not an isolated incident. In fact, there are children in each of the 13 detention centres with the highest number in Bekenu, Sarawak (299) and the lowest in Semuja, Sarawak (9).

Statistik tahanan mengikut jantina di depot di JIM dari Januari sehingga September 2015

Statistics of detainees (by gender and children) held at immigration depots from January to September 2015

Ajil 3,784 500 96 4,380
Bekenu 1,171 236 299 1,706
Belantik 4,385 757 135 5,277
Bukit Jalil 4,954 1,079 81 6,114
Juru 1,794 919 121 2,834
KLIA 7,403 2,563 220 10,186
Langkap 4,927 1,282 55 6,264
Lenggeng 5,563 1,836 186 7,585
Machap Umboo 4,745 1,132 32 5,909
Pekan Nenas 6,337 1,968 93 8,398
Semenyih 4,857 2,092 147 7,096
Semuja 1,741 222 9 1,972
Tanah Merah 2,859 338 444 3,641
JUMLAH 54,520 14,924 1,918 71,362
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The nation with the highest number of children is Myanmar (813), followed by Indonesia (422), Philippines (295) and Cambodia (121). These four nations make up 86 per cent of the children who are in these detention centres.

Statistik tahanan di depot JIM mengikut kewarganegaraan dari Januari sehingga September 2015

Detainees by nationality, gender and children

Indonesia 16,950 7,145 422 24,517
Myanmar 12,375 1,185 813 14,373
Bangladesh 11,631 69 37 11,737
Vietnam 1,974 2,952 43 4,969
Thailand 1,349 1,270 44 2,663
Pakistan 2,532 54 10 2,596
India 2,366 170 5 2,541
Nepal 2,125 38 2,163
Cambodia 891 589 121 1,601
Philippines 566 504 295 1,365
China 231 517 2 750
Nigeria 535 72 1 608
Sri Lanka 371 56 1 428
Lain-lain 624 303 124 1,051
JUMLAH 54,520 14,924 1,918 71,362


I call upon the Minister of Home Affairs to do the following:

  • Ensure that the welfare and safety of these children are given the highest priority in accordance with the provisions of the Convention of the Rights of the Child (CRC), of which Malaysia is a signatory.
  • Work with the embassies of the countries involved especially among the Asean countries to expedite any process to resettle or repatriate these children together with their parents.
  • Work with Suhakam, NGOs and other interested parties to allow these children, together with their parents (if applicable), to be released from these detention centres and housed in other more suitable accommodation.

As a start, I call upon the Minister of Home Affairs to organise a trip for interested MPs to visit a detention centre in the Klang Valley (Bukit Jalil, KLIA or Semenyih) for us to examine the conditions under which these children are being detained.

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Ong Kian Ming is the member of parliament for Serdang.

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