SHE'S twelve years old. Bronzed skin, hair bleached from the salted sun. We didn't manage to get her name; she was with her girl friends carefree and full of cheer at the Kota Kinabalu waterfront just beside the Handicraft Market that afternoon.
They came and willingly jumped in front of the camera, making hip-hop poses like teens from the 'hood’. She was chatty, just like any other healthy girl except for one big difference.
She's never been to school. There isn't one where she lives. She cannot read nor write. She knows rudimentary arithmetic - simple addition and subtraction. Ditto her group of friends. Each morning the girls leave their homes in the settlements at Pulau Gaya and come ashore to the city's waterfront seeking menial work dishwashing, food prep and packaging.
Promises of the dreams of a high-income economy and the NEM would be pretty meaningless for people like them. In most likelihood, a frustration will build up as the world passes them by. And then what?
Could this be the timebomb that Project IC planted?