KUALA LUMPUR JULY 20: The Sexual Harassment Bill had been passed at the Dewan Rakyat today through a voice vote after debates yesterday and today involving 26 Members of Parliament (MP) after its second reading on Tuesday.
Minister of Women, Family and Community Development, Datuk Seri Rina Harun said, this bill is important and timely to end the normalisation of sexual harassment.
“This is the first step for Malaysia to provide protection for victims against sexual harassment.
“I thank the women’s rights groups, federal and state agencies for their involvement in drafting the bill,” she said in her winding-up speech today.
Rina added, sexual harassment has negative impact on the victims especially mentally and leaves them with trauma that could disrupt their daily routine, productivity and wellbeing if not considered important and treated properly.
“The anti-sexual tribunal has the authority to decide the cases, instructing an apology statement by the respondent to the complainant and compensation up to RM250, 000 will be awarded to the latter for damages and losses.
“Any award by the tribunal is final and binding deemed as a court order that must be enforced by parties in the proceedings according to Clause 22,” she said.
The Minister made amendments to Clause 13, which allows any party to be represented by a counsel or solicitor if in the opinion of the tribunal, the matter in question involved complex legal issues.
Meanwhile a guardian or a friend could represent underage individuals or disabled persons and the tribunal may impose any condition deemed necessary to ensure the other party would not be in a position to face substantial loss due to the case.
The tribunal proceedings must be held behind closed doors and off limits to the public.
The tribunal shall make a decision on the award within 60 days from the first proceeding and the ruling must be meted out with grounds for or against it.
Under the Act, respondents can only challenge the compensations awarded by the tribunal by filing an appeal at the High Court on the basis of serious irregularity.
The tabling of the Sexual Harassment Bill had been postponed several times since two years ago and it was tabled for the first time in December.
The frequent postponements of the Bill had led several women’s rights groups to call for the government to table the bill as soon as possible. –Malaysia World News