COMMENT | We refer to the statement by the Deputy Prime Minister and Women and Family Development Minister Wan Azizah Wan Ismail in Parliament yesterday in which she claimed that the criminal case against the paedophile who sexually groomed an 11-year-old girl in Kelantan is “complex', that the attorney-general needs “more evidence” and that we cannot rely on “hearsay”.
In the face of a sex crime upon a helpless child that has outraged the nation, Wan Azizah continues to give untenable excuses whilst the perpetrator walks free and unpunished, to the increasing anger and disgust of the public.
There is no “complexity”, as claimed by Wan Azizah, in this case.
The simple question for purpose of a prosecution is whether an act of sexual grooming took place upon this child.
The facts are not in dispute; the paedophile 41-year-old suspect has already admitted to lusting after this child since she was seven years old, has tried to contract a marriage with her and most sickeningly, had cohabited with the child.
Why is Wan Azizah then giving the excuse of “hearsay” when the facts are well established and admitted even by the perpetrator? In any event, the issue of “hearsay” does not arise at all because the investigators have had plenty of time to record statements from all concerned, including the perpetrator himself.
The facts above thus amount to the serious offence of sexual grooming under the Sexual Offences Act 2017.
Despite all those clear facts, why is Wan Azizah deliberately trying to complicate matters and delay action?
There is no reasonable excuse for failing to enforce the provisions of the Sexual Offences Act to the fullest extent in this shocking and obvious case.
It is also not an acceptable answer for Azizah to simply pass the buck to the AG; she herself as the minister in charge must explain the reasons why no prosecution has been brought, as the AG is not in Parliament to do so.
This case has become international news; the minister must not dither and prevaricate in Parliament and leave Malaysia in the lurch.
Wan Azizah's excuse that the investigation is still ongoing and that she cannot comment further may have been acceptable a month ago, but it is intolerable now.
The self-confessed pervert and paedophile, in this case, must be immediately arrested and charged in court; anything less will bring government and the criminal justice system into utter disrepute.
LATHEEFA KOYA is executive director for Lawyers for Liberty, a human rights and law reform initiative.
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