According to Malay Mail, the inclusion of Arau MP Datuk Shahidan Kassim, who was once charged for molesting a 15-year-old girl, in the Parliamentary Special Select Committee (SSC) for women and children’s affairs has been heavily criticised today.
This morning, Dewan Rakyat’s Deputy Speaker Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said announced that the SSC had met online yesterday, and thanked the members for selecting her as its chairman.
Jawatankuasa Pilihan Khas Hal Ehwal Wanita Dan Kanak-Kanak Dan Pembangunan Sosial Dewan Rakyat telah bermesyuarat secara atas talian, semalam.
Saya ingin mengucapkan terima kasih kepada semua Ahli Jawatankuasa yang telah memilih saya selaku Pengerusi kepada JK ini. pic.twitter.com/WFWCPkmgDW
— Azalina Othman Said (@AzalinaOthmanS) January 14, 2021
Others in the SSC include Rubiah Wang (GPS/PBB-Kota Samarahan), Che Alias Hamid (PAS- Kemaman), Nik Muhammad Zawawi Salleh (PAS-Pasir Puteh), Fuziah Salleh (PH/PKR-Kuantan), Alice Lau (DAP- Lanang) and gaining the most critique – Shahidan Kassim (BN/Umno – Arau).
DAP’s Lanang MP Alice Lau said that Shahidan had once even opposed the formation of the committee. Take a look:
I fought very hard for the formation of this SSC. Arau & Bintulu were the 2 out of 7 house committee members who rejected it! He rejected the SSC & now he’s in SSC! Welcome Arau to SSC for Women & Children Affairs & Social Development! 😡 pic.twitter.com/qjcKIHYpqq
— Alice Lau (@alicelky) January 14, 2021
Besides that, DAP’s Batu Kawan MP Kasthuriraani Patto, who helped Alice push for the formation of the committee, said that she is shocked and disgusted with the inclusion of Shahidan.
“He (Shahidan) and Bintulu were the ones who vehemently objected to the formation of this committee… Don’t forget that he also has this molest case. While he was discharged, he was not acquitted, and it was with a child! I mean, how regressive has our Parliament become, that we have to include specimens like Shahidan in this committee?”, she said.
Former deputy women’s minister Hannah Yeoh congratulated Azalina’s appointment via Twitter but sarcastically pointed out that the inclusion of other Barisan Nasional (BN) and Perikatan Nasional (PN) MPs in it were due to the decision of the PN backbenchers’ chief.
Lega mendengar @AzalinaOthmanS dipilih sebagai Pengerusi daripada kalangan anggota BN/PN. Beliau selalu memperjuangkan isu kanak-kanak. Pemilihan anggota lain BN/PN tu kena tanya pengerusi backbenchers Perikatan Nasional. https://t.co/tmjCqti1Bx
— Hannah Yeoh (@hannahyeoh) January 14, 2021
On the other hand, the appointment has also been opposed by many social media users due to Shahidan’s previous history of alleged sexual predatory behaviour.
Salam puan @AzalinaOthmanS. Saya mohon Shahidan Kasim dikeluarkan daro senarai ini. Beliau terpalit kes salah laku seksual. Tidak sesuai langsung beliau dalam Jawatankuasa ini. Seperti menyuruh Bill Cosby, Yorkshire Ripper dan Weinstein jaga hak wanita https://t.co/pwMRsho18b
— Effi Saharudin (@1Obefiend) January 14, 2021
Why is it an individual who was accussed of child molestation is elected to this committee? Regardless of whether that individual was acquitted or not, he should not be on this list. Gives out a very negative impression on the committee https://t.co/NnwEYfdqJh
— KALAI VANI MANIAM (@VANIMANIAM) January 14, 2021
An alarming regression for gender equality. Firstly, girl molesters clearly don’t respect women & girls, & can’t make gender-sensitive decisions. Secondly, where’s accountability? Elected representatives w/ tarred records should be kept out of politics.
— All Women’s Action Society (AWAM) (@AWAMMalaysia) January 14, 2021
Among others, child rights activist Syed Azmi Alhabshi said that a woman should have taken the Arau MP’s place instead.
“How can someone once accused of molesting a child be included in this list?” he asked on his Facebook profile.
#ICYMI, back in April 2019, Shahidan was discharged not amounting to an acquittal by the Sessions Court for the alleged molestation of an underaged girl, after the alleged victim dropped her complaint.
The former minister was charged under Section 14(a) of the Sexual Offences Against Children Act 2017, which provides for imprisonment of up to 20 years and whipping if convicted. The girl is said to be from a buskers’ group that he sponsored.
The father of the girl also reportedly stated that the matter had been amicably “settled” and the family had decided that there was no need to “blow it out of proportion”.