Azalina: Sexual harassment tribunal should be a committee, not an individual

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Objects to ministry sec-gen being sole administrator in sexual harassment cases.

The secretary-general of the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry should not be the sole administrator for sexual harassment cases, Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said told the Dewan Rakyat today.

She said a sexual harassment case should instead be determined by a group of people in a committee, rather than appointing one person to decide whether a case should be brought to a tribunal for victims.

Azalina said this when debating the Anti-Sexual Harassment Bill in the Dewan Rakyat, which was first brought to the Lower House in 2011.

“I have one question (about the bill). Clauses 24 and 25 states that the secretary-general is the administrator in anti-sexual harassment cases.

“I’ve never seen in any (country) where the administrator for sexual harassment cases is the secretary-general. How can one person (take on this role)?

Jabatan Penerangan

“It will be fairer if it is referred to a committee, not just one person who gets to evaluate everything.

“I fear that if the secretary-general gets to decide on what defines sexual harassment, the person can be challenged in a court of law under administrative law,” she said.

Azalina said she would support the bill if changes are made to Clauses 24 and 25.

“We can expand the power of the minister, especially in amending Clauses 24 and 25 of the bill because I fear not only more violence and sexual harassment could occur because they (victims) are afraid, but also mental violence as some quarters might see its enforcement as unfair,” she said.

Yesterday, Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Rina Mohd Harun, while tabling the bill, said it empowered the Tribunal for Anti-Sexual Harassment to make an award, including an order for the respondent to issue a statement of apology to the complainant.

The tribunal may also order the respondent to pay compensation or damages not exceeding RM250,000 for any loss or damage suffered by the complainant. – NST