KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 26 – Wanita Umno head Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil said the government should not rush to introduce a new act to replace the Child Act 2001 but instead study it more carefully. “I hope the ministry (Women Family and Community Development Ministry) will consult all stakeholders, especially Parent-Teacher Associations, psychologists and relevant non-governmental organisations before arriving at a decision.
“The Attorney-General’s Chambers must also engage all the stakeholders including Wanita Barisan Nasional (BN) for feedback on the repercussions of the new act,” she told Bernama when contacted for her comments. Yesterday, Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Rohani Abdul Karim had said caning a child could be an offence under the new act which is expected to be tabled in Parliament by June at the latest.
Puteri Umno head Datuk Mas Ermieyati Samsudin, meanwhile, called for the proposal to make caning of children a criminal offence to be carefully reviewed because there are provisions in Islam allowing parents to cane children in order to educate them. “This matter should be fully studied as involves the views of many parties and all aspects should be looked at including the role of parents in educating children their own way as they know them better,” she said.
Mas Ermieyati said the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development should also look at the definition of caning under the Convention of the Rights of the Child (CRC) as it referred to the abuse of children. Meanwhile, legal aid organisation SukaGuam chairman Datuk Khairul Anwar Rahmat said the new act could lead to children being separated from parents until the age of 18, as had happened in Sweden.
He said criminal offences involved two elements – actus reus (action) and mens rea (criminal intent). However, Parent Action Group for Education (PAGE) chairman Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim held a contrarian view. She said caning of children was no longer relevant and would only lead to children becoming rebellious or depressed.