A bill to specially address child sexual crimes in a holistic and comprehensive manner is to be tabled in the current session of Parliament, said Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak.
He said it is hoped that the Child Sexual Offences Bill 2017 would receive the support of all MPs because it was the responsibility of all parties, regardless of political affiliation.
"The bill should not be opposed by any political party," he said in his speech while opening a seminar on addressing child sexual crimes, at the Putra World Trade Centre in Kuala Lumpur today.
Also present were Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi; Najib's wife Rosmah Mansor who is Permata patron; Communications and Multimedia Minister Salleh Said Keruak and Indonesia's fifth president Megawati Soekarnoputri.
Najib said the government planned to establish a special court to hear child sexual crime cases.
The prime minister said the Special Criminal Court would be different from the existing Children's Court, which only handled cases where the criminal offenders were children.
He also said that the government would not tolerate sexual exploitation and abuse of children and would strive to eliminate these heinous crimes.
Statistics of the Social Welfare Department revealed that 5,779 child sexual abuse cases were recorded between 2010 and 2015, with an average of 963 cases in a year, he said.
Police statistics showed that 2,759 cases of rape, 412 cases of incest, 1,423 cases of molest and 422 cases of unnatural sex involving children under 18 were reported in 2015 and 2016, he said.
"These cases should not have happened. We should not allow our children to continue to be subjected to exploitation by sexual predators," Najib said.
The prime minister said children should be respected as individuals who had the same rights as adults for protection against any threat.
He said sexual crimes against children could be regarded as a form of extreme cruelty because they could affect the victims and haunt them until adulthood.
Najib expressed sadness and disappointment because there were paedophiles who preyed on children.
"They victimise innocent children, such as in the case of Richard Huckle of the United Kingdom who was found guilty of molesting children in Malaysia.
"As such, we are faced with the daunting challenge of identifying these people whom we can regard as sheep in wolf's clothing in the midst of society," he said.
Najib advised parents to ensure that their children did not become victims of these crimes and to educate them on the "appropriate and inappropriate touch", and called on society to show concern over the issue.
The seminar, organised by Permata in cooperation with several ministries, was attended by almost 2,000 people who also comprised wives of political leaders, academicians, nursery operators and university students.