KUALA LUMPUR, July 20 — Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said (Pengerang-BN) questioned today the rationale behind appointing the secretary-general of the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development as the special anti-sexual harassment administrator under the Sexual Harassment Bill 2021.
The former law minister said that the appointment of a single individual to the role could be challenged under administrative laws for illegality, irrationality and unreasonableness in court as it does not happen anywhere else in the world where such laws exist.
“This is unacceptable because how can one individual, the secretary-general, be appointed as the administrator?
“Why should the secretary-general be the moral police for sexual harassment? It’s illogical,” she said during the debate on the Bill today.
Azalina said that while she supported the law, some changes could be made, including creating a committee, as seen with the Child Act 2001, and expanding the power of the minister to make changes to Sections 24 and 25 of the Bill which detail the appointment and functions of the special anti-sexual harassment administrator.
“It would be better, more appropriate, and just for such matters to be referred to a committee.
“We can expand the power of the minister, especially in amending Sections 24 and 25 of the Bill, because I fear not only could more violence and sexual harassment occur because they (victims) are afraid, but also mental violence as some quarters might see its enforcement as unfair,” she said.
Yesterday, Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Rina Mohd Harun, while tabling the Bill, said it empowers the Tribunal for Anti-Sexual Harassment to make an award, including an order for the respondent to issue a statement of apology to the complainant.
The tribunal may also order the respondent to pay compensation or damages not exceeding RM250,000 for any loss or damage suffered by the complainant.
Rina said any award ordered by the tribunal is deemed to be a court order and non-compliance with any award made by the tribunal could result in a criminal penalty.
She said there is a provision that all hearings before the tribunal should be closed to the public.