Govt to table sexual harassment bill

 pic by TMR FILE

THE government will table the bill on anti-sexual harassment during the current Dewan Rakyat sitting subject to the approval from the Attorney-General’s Chamber (AGC) and Cabinet ministers.

Women, Family and Community Development deputy minister Datuk Siti Zailah Mohd Yusoff said the draft on the bill is currently being reviewed by the AGC and the ministry hoped to receive its approval by this week.

“The ministry has aimed to table the bill for its first reading in the current Parliament sitting before December 16 subject to the approval from AGC and the meeting that will be held among Cabinet ministers.

“The processes involved need to be executed meticulously to overcome the flaws we have in existing laws on the matter and to ensure no issues will surface during its implementation,” she said in the Dewan Rakyat yesterday.

She was responding to a question from Tenom MP Noorita Sual who requested for the government’s timeline for the tabling of the bill.

Siti Zailah said the bill has been enacted collectively via a special project team with involvement from various parties including related ministries and agencies, non-governmental organisations and academics.

The ongoing second meeting of the Dewan Rakyat began on October 25 and will end on December 16.

Siti Zailah said the main challenge for the ministry to get the bill tabled in Parliament is time constraint as it requires approval from several levels as well as cooperation from every ministry.

“The main hurdle is time. We hope every obstacle can be resolved immediately and for all parties to cooperate on the tabling of this bill.

“Right now the bill is being reviewed by the AGC and we hope it can conclude by this week,” she added.

Once the bill is approved by the AGC, it will be brought forward to the Cabinet ministers as a white bill. Upon approval from the Cabinet, the bill will be presented to eight ministries involved in the process for a review before it is approved to be tabled in Parliament.

Meanwhile, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Parliament and Law) Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said he had not received the amendment bill to increase criminal penalties in Islamic courts for tabling in Parliament.

The Shariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) (Amendment) Bill or RUU355 was first tabled in the August house on May 26, 2016 as a private member’s bill by Pas president Datuk Seri Abdul Haid Awang.

The bill proposed to raise the Shariah court’s sentence limit to a maximum of 30 years’ jail from the current three years as well as RM100,000 fine and up to 100 strokes of the cane from RM5,000 fine and six strokes.

“In reference to RUU355, it was not referred to me to be tabled in Parliament,” Wan Junaidi said during his wind-up speech for his portfolio on Budget 2022 yesterday.

He was responding to a query from Machang MP Datuk Ahmad Jazlan Yaakub who interjected Wan Junaidi’s speech and asked for updates on RUU355.

Wan Junaidi also said matters relating to Islamic affairs should be directed to Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Religious Affairs) Idris Ahmad.