Illegal orphanage finally shut down

Pusat Jagaan Kanak-Kanak Cahaya Amal Bestari's spokesman denies the accusation

By Huzraifah Atikah

How often have you been approached by a child asking for donations claiming it was for their school or one trying to sell you something?

The use of children to sell items and beg for donations is not something new and many of us are aware of this.

Recently, it was reported that an orphanage in Kedah was shut down for allegedly exploiting their children since 2005.

The orphanage, Pusat Jagaan Kanak-Kanak Cahaya Amal Bestari in Sungai Petani is being investigated and has since been closed down by the Kedah government. 

According to the state exco for religion, Ismail Salleh, authorities found that the orphanage has in fact been operating illegally all this while.

“The operators are being investigated for child exploitation under the Child Act 2001 by the police. In fact, an investigation paper was opened last week,” Ismail said. 

However, a spokesman from the orphanage, Azfar Kamaruddin strongly disagreed with the accusations. 

Azfar said they had already applied for approval from the relevant bodies including the Sungai Petani Municipal Council as well as state Islamic and welfare departments.

“How can you say we are exploiting children when we are merely taking care of the orphaned and the children of those who are destitute? We are even sending them to primary school.

“The donations are to sustain themselves and their fellow housemates,” he said. 

The orphanage is considering legal action against the state government over the claims that it is using 200 children under its care to solicit donations from the public.

The Kedah state government also did a background check on children at the centre and found that only 11 are orphans while the rest have parents. 

Ismail said 109 children were returned to their parents, while the 11 orphans are now under the custody of the Welfare Department.

Ismail also revealed that the centre had been operating since 2005 and has had its name changed many times.