MPs united on Child Sexual Offences Bill 2017

NST TEAM

KUALA LUMPUR: MPs from both political divide showed a rare stance of unity today when Minister in Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said tabled the Sexual Offences against Children Bill 2017.

In a press conference at the Parliament's media centre, Azalina issued a stern warning to perpetrators, stating that they can run but they cannot hide.

Azalina, who is also Pengerang MP, said that the bill has been tabled for its first reading today with many lawmakers supporting it.

“We will be briefing BN MPs on Wednesday and the Opposition MPs on Thursday. I’m quite excited for all MPs to raise all issues.

“I believe we are open for further suggestions. Maybe some MPs may think that the punishment seem inadequate.

“Maybe they would like to suggest further punishment and I believe we should be open for debates,” she said.

Azalina explained that there are seven elements in the bill which include offences relating to child pornography, child grooming, and sexual assault.

One of the content that received support from various quarters are clause 18 and 19 of the Act on the credibility and evidence of child witness.

This part of the bill will give priority for the child’s statement to be accepted as evidence, which the court may allow for uncorroborated evidence of a child as the child is presumed to be competent to give evidence.

“Clause 3 which talks about extra-territorial application means that we can use this Act when it involves any Malaysian children. Even if the perpetrators are foreigners, they will not be able to escape the punishment.

“With the announcement of special criminal court for sexual offences on children, we hope the implementation and application will see all cases be settled in a faster manner as compare to before.

“No more postponement up to eight years until the child has already forgotten about it,” said Azalina.