Sarawak minister says state seeking to clarify adoption law

Sulok Tawie
Fatimah said the state Cabinet disagreed with the proposal to raise the age limit for adoptions from 18 to 21 years’ old. ― Picture by Sulok Tawie

KUCHING, Nov 12 — The state government is looking to better define the term “Sarawak connection” within the Adoption Ordinance (1958 Edition), Datuk Seri Fatimah Abdullah said today.

Sarawak’s welfare, community wellbeing, women, family and childhood development minister said the state government acknowledged the section was open to interpretation.

“As to the particular ongoing court case in question, we are looking into ways to settle the matter amicably, with the best interest of the child in mind,” Fatimah said in the Sarawak State Legislative Assembly when replying to DAP’s Bukit Assek assemblyman Irene Chang.

During the debate on the state’s budget 2020, Chang said among requirements for a successful adoption were for the child to be born in Sarawak and to possess a Sarawak connection.

She highlighted a February 2, 2017 memorandum from the state Attorney General’s Chambers to all district offices, which said five consecutive years of residency were sufficient to demonstrate a “Sarawak connection”.

Chang said some applications to adopt abandoned children in Sibu were rejected by the district office there as there was no information about the identity and location of their biological parents.

 She asked the minister to explain why adopting families were not allowed to show a “Sarawak connection” using the children’s length of stay in the state.

On Chang’s request for both the details of the birth and adoptive parents to be included in the central registry, the minister said this has been approved and will come into effect on January 1.

The minister said the state Cabinet disagreed with the proposal to raise the age limit for adoptions from 18 to 21 years’ old as there were already other laws that allowed for adult adoptions.

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