KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 7 — In the wake of the arrest and jailing of a serial paedophile who operated under the radar for 14 years in Sarawak, lawmakers and civil societies have called for greater empowerment of law enforcement agencies tasked with overseeing sexual crimes.
Segambut MP Hannah Yeoh told Malay Mail that the exposé should serve as a signal to the powers that be that crimes against children are a grave concern.
“It is time that the Malaysian government takes crime related to children seriously by strengthening and empowering the D11 unit in Bukit Aman,” she said in reference to the federal police’s specialised Sexual, Women and Child Investigations Division.
Explaining further, the former deputy minister of women, family and community development said that efforts to train and equip officers with the best technology to solve such crimes were still not up to par here as noted through the year-long joint effort between Malaysian and Australian police.
One of the world’s most wanted paedophiles — Alladin Lanim who operated out of Lundu, Sarawak — was finally apprehended recently.
According to a report by Sydney-based Sydney Morning Herald, the capture of the 40-year-old Alladin initially stemmed from a multinational internal police report in 2019 which had listed him as one of the top 10 offenders in the world in exploitation of children on the internet.
Alladin had posted about his exploits on the dark web which detailed abuses inflicted on children between the ages of two and 16, which authorities said he has been doing since 2007 and linked to more than 1,000 images and videos depicting the sexual abuse of minors.
For his crimes, Alladin was sentenced to a total of 18 years and six months in prison and 15 strokes of the cane.
When asked if the punishment was considered “lenient” for the crimes committed, Yeoh replied in the affirmative and noted the disparity in the perceived severity of punishment and deterrent effect as sexual abuses haunt victims for life.
Yeoh said when it came to crimes concerning children, it was a constant battle to acquire the necessary resources in terms of urgency, expertise and priorities.
Voice of the Children founding chairman Sharmila Sekaran questions how Aladdin was able to operate for more than a decade without being caught.
“Of course, the collaboration between the Royal Malaysia Police (PDRM) and the Australian Federal Police is to be applauded and the difficulties in navigating the dark web are understood but it is concerning that a sexual predator was able to operate and violate so many children over such a long period of time in our own backyard.
“PDRM owe the children as well as the many other children whose predators have gone undetected or only detected after years of abuse and society at large an explanation.
“If it has to do with lack of resources or lack of sufficient knowledge and training, then we need to know; and we need to know from the government why such serious security issues are not being given greater funding and priority,” she said.
She also expressed relief that the accused had pleaded guilty to spare the victims of further trauma in court.
Echoing Sharmila’s call for greater funding of law enforcement departments specialising in sexual crimes is DAP lawmaker and Batu Kawan MP Kasthuri Patto.
Kasthuri also feels that the sentence of 18 and a half years was “rather short” for the multiple sexual abuses and trauma Aladdin inflicted on his victims.
An advocate of child and women’s rights, Kasthuri also called on the government to provide more funding to equip law enforcement officers with the necessary technical and training expertise to crack down child sexual abuse and exploitation.
She added that she had brought up this issue in Parliament last year but subsequently received a non-committal answer from the ministry concerned.
Kasthuri said the matter must be taken seriously so that Malaysia will not be perceived as a transit or contact point where the dark web and paedophiles flourished.
This was also not Malaysia’s first encounter with a high profile paedophile.
Dubbed Briton’s worst paedophile, Richard Huckle was sentenced to 22 counts of life imprisonment in the United Kingdom in 2016 for sexually abusing around 200 children between 2006 and 2014, especially in Malaysia, after admitting to 71 charges of sex abuse against children aged from six months to 12.
Huckle, a freelance photographer from Ashford in Kent, preyed on children in an impoverished part of Kuala Lumpur where he portrayed himself as a Christian teacher and even produced his own online paedophile manual advising others on how to abuse children and escape detection.