Chin Refugee Children Fall Prey to Drug Dealing
14 May 2011: The number of Chin refugee children between 8 and 15 years of age coaxed into drug dealing in Malaysia has risen in recent months, Chin community leaders in Kuala Lumpur said today.
At least 40 people, of which about half are children, have been involved in a hole-and-corner selling and taking of drugs in association with ‘secret’ illegal dealers reportedly including Burmese nationals, according to sources from Chin Disciplinary Action Committee (CDAC) and Chin Student Organisation (CSO).
Mr. Lal Siam Mawi, CDAC Chairman, said some 14-year-olds hang out with their drug-dealing friends, sleep under the bridges and don’t come home, adding: “We caught them and taught them not to take drugs for weeks. Some have stopped while others continue as usual as they have already been addicted.”
He told the Chinland Guardian that about 13 underage children are said to have been involved in selling drugs and at least four teens addicted in Kuala Lumpur alone.
Roger Khua Hup, Chairman of CSO, a community-based group that provides informal educational services to Chin refugee children said: “Most of these children are of families coming from remote areas in Chin State, where there is no school or educational system. When they arrived in Malaysia, they had no understanding of education and could be easily enticed.”
When asked if CSO has tried to get those children back to school, Roger said: “We managed to get some children back to classes but they ran away after a few days or weeks. What we found out was that some had already been addicted to drugs and others have fallen into getting a small amount of money rather than studying.”
Total lack of proper education or dysfunctional school system in Chin State, Burma has been ascribed by Chin community leaders to the root cause of problems facing Chin children.
Other reasons identified to have led children and teenagers into drugs are related to family problems where children are not properly taken care of after parents are separated and a long-drawn condition of joblessness among new arrivals in Malaysia.
To this, Roger highlighted that some parents themselves do not understand the value of education and that they do not seem to care at all even if their children do not go to school.
“If children come to classes as soon as they arrive in Malaysia, they behave well and are willing to keep on studying. It is very important that parents support their children to go to school,” added the CSO Chairman.
Lal Siam Mawi also noted: “Some people who are looked after financially by their family members in other countries can get easily spoiled and attracted to this kind of situation. Other drug addicts include those who had been to Phakanh and other mining places in Shan State, Burma.”
Recently, the Immanuel Charity Home (ICH) has been set up in Kuala Lumpur for providing food, accommodation and pastoral services to victims of alcohol drinking and drug addiction in an effort to help dealing with community problems facing Chin refugees in Malaysia.
About half of 5,000 refugee children estimated by the UNHCR are of Chin ethnicity currently living in Malaysia.
Van Biak Thang