KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 14 — 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 criticised today.
DAP’s Lanang MP Alice Lau today said that the Umno MP had once even opposed the formation of the committee.
“I fought very hard for the formation of this SSC. Arau and Bintulu were the two out of seven house committee members who rejected it! He rejected the SSC and now he’s in SSC!
“Welcome Arau to SSC for Women & Children Affairs & Social Development,” she posted, with an angry emoji. Bintulu MP refers to Perikatan Nasional’s (PN) Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing
Dewan Rakyat’s Deputy Speaker Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said this morning 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.— Azalina Othman Said (@AzalinaOthmanS) January 14, 2021
Saya ingin mengucapkan terima kasih kepada semua Ahli Jawatankuasa yang telah memilih saya selaku Pengerusi kepada JK ini. pic.twitter.com/WFWCPkmgDW
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), and Lau herself.
“I am actually shocked and disgusted...Don't forget he was the one... he and Bintulu were the ones who vehemently objected to the formation of this committee," said DAP’s Batu Kawan MP Kasthuriraani Patto.
Kasthuriraani and Lau were among those who had pushed for the formation of said 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 asked.
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.
“In Parliament, I have also raised the issue of unequal representation in Select Committees,” Yeoh said in a separate tweet.
“It should reflect the actual composition of Opposition, ie if we have close to 50 per cent MPs, we should have at least three to four Opposition MPs in these Committees and not just two!”
Speaking briefly to Malay Mail, Fuziah said the appointment of each member was made by their own party. She has yet to comment on the inclusion of Shahidan.
The appointment has also been opposed by many social media users due to Shahidan’s previous history of alleged sexual predatory behaviour.
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.
Clearly- this committee will be today’s distraction for Twitterjaya. When the focus should always be on the URGENCY of institutional reforms disallowing *ANY* individual with egregious offences on the record from becoming/remaining an elected representative in the first place. pic.twitter.com/RdTz5KB7UY— Tehmina Kaoosji (@TehminaKaoosji) January 14, 2021
Kenapa Shahidan Kasim yg pernah didakwa cabul kanak-kanak perempuan bawah umur dalam senarai ni whadehek?— #EndChildMarriage - Azira 🇲🇾 🌺 (@ladymissazira) January 14, 2021
Why are predators in charge of women and children's welfare? https://t.co/TnKjGpKlHF pic.twitter.com/MLRsxMpgB5
Malay Mail is seeking comment from Azalina and Shahidan himself.
In April 2019, Shahidan was discharged not amounting to acquittal today from a charge of molesting a minor, after the alleged victim dropped her complaint.
He was then charged under Section 14(a) of the Sexual Offences Against Children Act 2017 which handles physical sexual assault on a child by touching any part of the child’s body.
If convicted, he would have faced a jail sentence of not more than 10 years and whipping.
Shahidan was charged with sexual harassment by touching hands to the shoulders of a 15-year-old child in a Toyota Harrier car at the edge of the Tuanku Syed Putra Stadium at Kangar at 11.30pm on October 20, 2018.
The girl is said to be from a buskers’ group that he sponsored.
Shahidan had previously denied the charge and said it was all just a “misunderstanding”. He had also said that the police report lodged against him over the case had been withdrawn.
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”.