PUTRAJAYA: An interim investigation by the Ministry of Human Resources into the issue of child labour in Sabah as highlighted by a newspaper, has found that there is no compulsion on the children to perform any work.
The ministry said labour offices in several districts in collaboration with The Forest Trust (TFT) found that the children and youths were only accompanying their elders who worked as farm labourers, as they had no one to care for them at home.
“They are also taken to the place of employment or farms to avoid untoward incidents if they were left alone at home,” the ministry said in a statement here, yesterday.
It said the employers also proved there were no employment documents for the minors, as they did not work on the farms involved.
“These children and youths were seen to be working, but actually, they were only helping out their elders,” it added.
Earlier this week, Utusan Malaysia reported that an estimated 200,000 children aged five to 18 were found to be working, including helping out their parents in various sectors in Sabah.
According to the ministry, the results of the investigation found that the number of children involved in the plantation sector in some oil palm plantations was 60,000, based on information received by the TFT through the Indonesian Consulate.
“The children and youths are mostly Indonesians, and a handful of them, Filipinos.
“They were found to be involved in various plantation activities, such as plucking oil palm, harvesting, cleaning and others,” it said, adding that TFT explained that the children and youths were only seen to be helping out their parents at work, and not viewed as child labourers.
According to the ministry, the Sabah Labour Department will obtain further information from its subsidiary companies to follow-up on the issue. – Bernama