[PRESS STATEMENT] Objecting to Shahidan Kassim’s Appointment to Committee on Women and Children’s Affairs

Picture Taken from Utusan Malaysia

We – the undersigned – strongly object to the appointment of Arau MP Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim to the Parliamentary Special Select Committee for Women and Children Affairs and Social Development. We note that Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim has since requested to be replaced.

In 2018, Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim was charged with molesting a 15-year-old girl – under the Sexual Offences Against Children Act 2017. The charges were later dropped in 2019 after the complaint was withdrawn – but Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim was not acquitted.

This casts serious doubt on Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim’s credibility to serve on this committee, which has the responsibility of scrutinizing laws on gender-based violence and child abuse.

Moreover, the Arau MP had previously objected to the formation of the parliamentary select committee on women and children.

In a time when women’s and children’s rights have been significantly set back by the pandemic, it is even more important that we appoint credible MPs, with relevant expertise and commitment to child rights and gender equality to the committee.

We call on:

  • Barisan Nasional and Perikatan Nasional immediately rescind Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim’s appointment and apologize for this oversight. We call on BN chairperson Datuk Seri Dr. Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and PN chairperson Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin to address this.
  • Opposition Leader Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim; Minister of Women, Family and Community Development, Datuk Seri Rina Harun; and Chair of the Select Committee for Women and Children Affairs and Social Development, Datuk Seri Azalina Othman – to object to Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim’s appointment.
  • Dewan Rakyat Speaker Datuk Azhar Harun to reflect on the lapses of the appointment process, and enact reforms to safeguard the integrity of the parliamentary select committees.

Malaysia has ratified the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and the Child Rights Convention (CRC). We have government agencies and frontliners dedicated to combating child abuse – including the Welfare Department, Royal Malaysia Police, and One-Stop Crisis Centres in public hospitals.

The appointment of Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim to this select committee goes against these commitments and principles.

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