Azalina urges MPs to support stricter amendments in laws combatting sexual offences against children
KUALA LUMPUR, March 27 — Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Law and Institutional Reform) Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said has called on all MPs to support the Bill to amend the Sexual Offences Against Children Act 2017.
She said today it is crucial that a stern message be sent out that the government will not tolerate certain conduct.
“If you have this amendment and make the law stronger, and more difficult for them to find defences, then the abuse won’t happen.
“If the law is flexible, the abuse will continue especially when [the victims are] the disabled, children — the scariest part is when the perpetrator is a family member,” Azalina said during an engagement session on the Bill to amend the Sexual Offences Against Children Act 2017 with MPs.
Azalina had tabled the Bill for its first reading earlier today. At the engagement session, she said the second reading would be done this Wednesday and would be brought to the Upper House next week on March 6.
“This is why you have to understand, as an MP we are obligated because the people voted us here. Maybe the children didn’t vote for us here, but we have an obligation [to protect them].
“I know the defence council will always say everybody has the right to defend themselves, that we must trust our judges in the judiciary. The judges are fair out there, I think you have seen, nobody is going to prosecute anyone for fun,” she said.
“If (a child) makes certain allegations, there must be a lot of proof in it. So we want to work backwards. I’ve spoken to the chief justice and she’s also agreeable,” she said.
Azalina also suggested the establishment of a system whereby the judiciary or judges can be more inquisitorial and not allow counsels to lodge defence.
Citing sextortion as an example, she said sexual offences are also getting more sophisticated and the law will need to keep up with the times.
She stressed that the government needs to send out a strong message to perpetrators.
“Whoever you are, the government and the law is going to be very strict to punish you.”