KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 2 ― The federal government has proposed to drop whipping as a form of punishment for children found guilty of criminal acts, as it tabled a Bill to overhaul the Child Act 2001 today.
Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Rohani Abdul Karim, who tabled the Bill for its first reading this morning, said they want to remove any and all instances where the Court for Children can order minors to be whipped if convicted of criminal acts.
“We don’t want whipping of child criminal offenders. No whipping,” she said at a news conference at the Parliament lobby here.
Rohani said the Bill will seek to amend about 70 per cent of the existing Act and will focus on four key thrusts which includes the removal of whipping as a punishment for minors.
The Bill will also introduce community service orders as a new form of punishment for children who break the law and adult offenders who abuse or neglect their children.
Rohani said the government is prioritising the rehabilitation of children who are either victims of abuse or neglect, or minors who are “out of control” through family-based guardianship, which would place the children in the care of their families instead of sending them straight to welfare institutes.
“We will make sure these children are placed with families. If the offenders are their own parents, then we will place them with family members such as an uncle or aunt.
“We will make sure the family is safe for the child, and will conduct periodic checks,” she said, adding that welfare institutes will only be used as a last resort.
Rohani said the Bill will at the same time push for an increase in punitive measures on offenders, especially adult offenders found guilty under Section 31 of the Act of abusing, neglecting or mistreating a child.
If approved, the fine will be raised to RM50,000 from RM10,000 and jail term doubled from 10 years to 20 years.
Rohani, however, did not give a timeline for when they hope to get the Bill passed by Parliament, noting that her ministry will carry out public engagement to gather feedback and support from all parties.