Archive for the ‘Children's Safety’ Category

Harsh lessons from fire

Tuesday, September 19th, 2017
Firemen removing a body from the Darul Quran Ittifaqiyah religious school in Kampung Datuk Keramat, Kuala Lumpur, on Thursday. PIC BY ROSDAN WAHID

A TERRIBLE fire occurred at a religious school in Kampung Datuk Keramat, Kuala Lumpur, at 5.15am last Thursday. The blaze killed 23 people — 21 students and two teachers. Six people were rescued, with three still in critical condition and warded in Hospital Kuala Lumpur. Fire and Rescue Department officials described the fire as unusually “raging” when they arrived at the scene.

In the first 24 hours after the tragedy, attention was focused on fire and safety issues. Initially, the fire was perceived as an “accident” that could have been prevented. Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Minister Tan Sri Noh Omar said the school did not have a valid permit from the department although “it was in the process of applying for one”. He instructed the department to conduct checks on all religious schools in the country “to ensure that they abide by safety guidelines”.

The public who watched the news of the fire in the electronic media or read about it in the print or social media) could see the permanently-fixed window grille at the top floor of the building which had prevented its occupants from escaping. According to reports, the building had one fire exit only on the third floor (where the fire started).

However, in the second 24 hours after the tragedy, the public was made aware of the possibility that the fire was not an accident but arson.

This came about after police detained seven teenagers, aged between 11 and 18. Police believed the boys had (six of whom were found to be positive for ganja) set fire to the school “following a spat between them and the students”.

City police chief Datuk Amar Singh said the suspects had intended to burn down the building “in an act of revenge over a name-calling incident that took place a few days earlier”. He believed the suspects had taken drugs before they started the fire. Investigations revealed that the suspects had used two cooking gas cylinders and a hydrocarbon accelerant (petrol) to commit the offence. The suspects had taken the cylinders to the top floor to start the fire.

He said the case was being investigated under Sections 302 (for murder) and 435 (mischief by fire) under the Penal Code. Section 302 carries the mandatory death penalty, while Section 435 carries a maximum prison sentence of seven years and a fine.

What was not mentioned is that if these suspects are charged under Section 436 (mischief by fire to destroy a building used for education), the penalty upon conviction is higher — a maximum prison sentence of 20 years and a fine.

Section Two of the Fire Services Act 1988 (Act 341) provides a detailed definition of the term “fire hazard” as including, inter alia:

ANY unlawful alteration to a building as may render escape from any part thereof in the event of fire “more difficult”;

ANY removal, or absence from any building of any fire-fighting equipment or fire-safety installation that is required by law to be provided in the building; and,

INADEQUATE means of escape from any part of the building to any place of safety in the event of a fire.

Under Section 8, if the Fire and Rescue Department director-general (D-G) is satisfied that a fire hazard exists in any premises, he “may serve” the owner or occupier a fire hazard abatement notice within a period stipulated in the notice. Failure to comply is an offence under Section 10, punishable with a fine not exceeding RM5,000 or prison term not exceeding three years, or both.

Section 33 of the act states that: “Where there is no fire certificate in force in respect of any designated premises, the owner of the premises shall be guilty of an offence.”

Under Section 35, if the D-G is satisfied, in regard to any premises, that the risk to persons or property in the case of fire is “so serious that, until steps have been taken to reduce them to a reasonable level, the use of the premises ought to be prohibited or restricted”, he may, by a complaint, apply to the court for a prohibitory order. Upon receipt of the complaint or application, the court shall serve the appropriate notice to the owner or occupier of the premises calling upon them to show cause why a prohibitory order should be made. If cause is not shown, the court can then issue the order. The penalty for contravening the order is a fine not exceeding RM10,000, or a prison term of not more than five years and/or both.

In the religious school fire tragedy, based on what has been said by several parties, it would appear that the school building had not been issued with a fire certificate. There are circumstances indicating that the existence of “fire hazard” in the building that would constitute a valid reason for the D-G to take steps under section 8 (issue a fire hazard abatement notice). If the notice is ignored and the fire certificate has not been issued, and the risk of fire is “serious”, he could (and should) have applied for and obtained a prohibitory order under Act 341.


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Rights of a child suspect

Tuesday, September 19th, 2017

The death of 23 students and teachers of the Darul Quran Ittifaqiyah tahfiz in Jalan Datuk Keramat in a fire has shocked the nation.

At the time of writing, City police Chief Comm Datuk Amar Singh has informed the public in a press conference that seven people aged between 11 and 18 have been arrested in connection with the fire.

It would appear that the suspects are mostly children, and according to the police the fire was a deliberate arson attack arising out of a disagreement between the suspects and some students from the tahfiz.

Yet, even before the press conference, alleged details and photos of the suspects were already circulated on WhatsApp and social media platforms.

Regardless of our own personal feelings about the tragedy, we must remind ourselves that at this juncture the seven teenagers are still just suspects. They are not even charged for any offence yet at the time of writing.

We must remember that most of them are still children in the eyes of the law.

The Child Act 2001, amongst others, provides for the rights of a child offender and the procedure when it comes to a criminal charge against a child.

According to the Act, a child who is alleged to have committed an offence shall not be arrested, detained or tried except in accordance with the Act.

When a child is charged in Court, the child will be charged and tried in a Court for Children. If the child is jointly charged with adults, the case may be heard by a Court other than a Court for Children, but that Court is to exercise all powers relating to the child as a Court for Children.

A Court for Children consists of a Magistrate who is assisted by two advisors, one of whom must be a woman. The role of the advisors is to inform and advise the Court for Children with respect to the child.

The Court for Children has the jurisdiction to try all offences except offences punishable by death. Unless the child suspects in the tahfiz fire case are charged with murder, it is likely that they will be charged and tried in the Court for Children.

There are also additional protections for a child offender at the stage of sentencing. The Court for Children must consider a probation report of the child. Child offenders also cannot be sentenced like an adult.

The Child Act prohibits the media when reporting about criminal investigations or prosecution of a child from publishing the photograph or reporting the name, address educational institution, or include any particulars that can lead to the identification the child.

The Act also prohibits the publication – which includes sharing on social media -  photographs of any child suspect in a criminal investigation. Anyone contravening these provisions may be charged for an offence under the Act. Those who spread the photos and details of the child suspects in the tahfiz fire case may have committed an offence by doing so.

In any society, members have a responsibility to protect the weakest amongst the ranks. Children would most certainly fall within that category.

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No need finger pointing, learn from tragedy

Monday, September 18th, 2017
(File pix) Family members of 10-year-old Muhamad Aidil Aqmal Mohamad Zamzuri, one of the victims in the Darul Quran Ittifaqiyah Tahfiz school tragedy. Pix by Salhani Ibrahim
By EMBUN MAJID - September 18, 2017 @ 4:32pm

ALOR STAR: No need to point fingers, as what is more important is lessons learnt from the tragedy.

That is the response from Zakaria Darus, 59, the grandfather of 10-year-old Muhamad Aidil Aqmal Mohamad Zamzuri, one of the victims in the Darul Quran Ittifaqiyah Tahfiz school tragedy.

Although he is devastated upon learning that the fire was an arson attack by a group of teens, Zakaria stressed that what more important is for all quarters concerned to learn the lessons from the tragedy.

“We all already know now that the cause of the fire was arson attack, but what more important now is the important of improving safety aspect at tahfiz school.

“Another important lesson from the tragedy is that schools must comply to safety requirements set by the authorities,” he said in a phone interview.

The retired Army sergeant, who resides in Cheras, Kuala Lumpur said he was disgruntled and shocked when he first learnt that the fire was set up by a group of young children.

However, he declined to comment on suitable punishment for the perpetrators and leaving it to the authorities to decide.

“It is wiser to let the police to complete their investigation on the case and if the teenagers are found guilty for the offence, suitable punishment should be meted out on them,” he said.

Zakaria said Aidil Aqmal was one of his five grandchildren.

Aidil Aqmal was among the 21 students of the tahfiz school in Kampung Dato’ Keramat, Kuala Lumpur who perished in early Thursday fire which destroyed the hostel located on the third floor of the three-storey building.

Also killed were two hostel wardens.

Police solved the case within 48 hours of the incident after rounding up seven teenagers aged between 11 and 18 in Keramat area.

Investigation revealed that three of the teenagers were directly involved in the attack, which was triggered by misunderstanding with some of the school students.


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‘Child sexual abuse cases must be handled with care’.

Sunday, September 17th, 2017

KUALA LUMPUR: There is still a culture of permissiveness on matters pertaining to child sexual abuse within families, Suspected Abuse and Neglect (Scan) team head Dr Zahilah Filzah Zulkifli said.

“We tend to believe that the abusers will change and their partners also feel they need to give them a chance to change, but people don’t change that easily,” she said.

Dr Zahilah said while it was possible for people to change, it has to be facilitated in a structured manner with the help of experts.

“There’s a huge process in rehabilitation, it has to be done properly. You can’t just label someone as being rehabilitated and be done with it,” Dr Zahilah, a panel member at Monsters Against Us (MAU) Child Predator Symposium, said yesterday.

Meanwhile, the latest U-Report Malaysia findings presented at the symposium showed that 11% of Malaysians said they would not report an incident of child abuse if they witnessed it while only 7% said they might.

U-Report is a mobile-based communication platform that enables young people, called U-Reporters, share their ideas and opinions on social issues in their community, through polls and social media engagement.

Officially launched by Unicef in 2012, it has over two million users in 22 countries in four continents.

Asked why they would not report the abuse, an anonymous respondent said: “Because I have no power or authority to stop it.”

Another said that it might harm the child and the informer.

“So I’ll let the authorities take the actions needed.”

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Safety first for children

Sunday, September 17th, 2017
Twenty-one young and beautiful children and two adult wardens met their untimely end in the incident. Pic by NSTP/ROSDAN WAHID

IT is just so sad and mind-numbing to have so many young lives lost in the Darul Quran Ittifaqiyah tahfiz school fire on Sept 14.

Twenty-one young and beautiful children and two adult wardens met their untimely end in the incident. Ironically, this would not have happened had the centre been more responsible and put more concern over their safety and security.

This rebuke might sound unfair or premature. But, how else could anyone put it after considering the facts and initial reports on the incident?

For one, the centre’s building had not received a certificate of fire safety and should not have been occupied at all. Then the dormitory floor, which housed the victims, had only one entry and exit.

This exit became inaccessible to the victims when it was blocked by the raging fire. There were no other fire exit as the windows were secured with metal grilles. The dormitory, thus, became a cruel death trap from which the victims had very little chance of escaping.

Investigations into what caused the fire and how it turned into an inferno rapidly are certainly necessary. So should the reason for the inability of the victims to make their escape.

The findings may lead to the prosecution and punishment of the guilty party if there had been gross negligence or criminal intent. It should also draw important lessons on how to prevent such incidents from happening again.

The early findings and observations have caused many to act quickly. There is now need for such private learning centres to be registered with a federal or state agency so that there would be more effective oversight, particularly on the matter of safety of premises and students.

The Fire and Rescue Department has also decided to inspect tahfiz centres in the country for fire safety. Parents who have children studying in similar centres would have also begun to look at the safety standards and features in the places where their children stay and study.

Finally, owners and administrators of such centres must have begun to put on their thinking caps, making “safety first” as their primary guiding principle and to improve.

The grief felt by the victims’ families and friends is unfathomable and can never be adequately described. Time may be the best healer of their pain, but the memories of their loved ones can never go away.

They may get some consolation knowing that their loved ones died as martyrs — as said by some — although deep in their hearts, they wish the victims are still alive and have the chance to grow up, pursue their dreams and enjoy their lives as they grow old.

This must surely be the overarching desire of all parents. It can be realised, as proven
by many other developed countries.

Their success, however, stems from one fundamental attitude which they seemed to have but is deficient in our society — the ability to truly love and care for the young and the weak.

When this feeling of love and care is prevalent in a country, then the young and the weak
are assured of a safer environment.

The stories to describe our situation are abundant. Have we not often cringed or cried reading of incidents of parents abusing and beating their own children? How about the frequent cases of adults leaving their children in locked houses while they work or go out to have a good time?

And those wearing helmets on their heads with their children sitting precariously on a motorcycle with their heads covered only by a thin tudung or a small songkok?

How on earth will children avoid serious injuries if they were to crash or tumble on the road? There is no true love and caring there!

There is also this inherent attitude among many to surrender the whole responsibility for the safety and security of children to others, be it to a helper at home, day care centres or even schools, without so much as some monitoring and checking while they are away.

This is amounting to abandoning them to their own ends when it is known that they are still too young to fend and care for themselves.

By Lt Gen (R) Datuk Seri Zaini Mohd Said.

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Grooming professionals to tackle substance addiction

Wednesday, September 13th, 2017
Dorji Tshering (left) and Reema Samman find the programme an eye-opener.

THE issue of substance abuse knows no boundaries.

In the United Nations World Drug Report 2016, it was cited that over 29 million people who used drugs were estimated to suffer from drug use disorders, but only one in six of them were undergoing treatment.

While many don’t understand why or how people become addicted to drugs, there is a general belief that those who use them lack moral principles or willpower, and that they could stop their drug abuse simply by choosing to.

However, it could be more complex than that. Drug addiction is akin to a disease, and quitting takes more than good intentions or a strong will.

With this in mind, Cyberjaya University College of Medical Sciences (CUCMS) embarked on a project with the Commonwealth’s Colombo Plan Secretariat, just over a year ago, to develop an academic and skill-based postgraduate programme to educate and train workers, who deal with and manage substance abuse patients.

The Postgraduate Diploma in Addiction Science (PGDAS) programme was designed to meet international standards, and candidates from developing nations were provided scholarships by the Colombo Plan’s International Centre For Certification And Education Of Addiction Professionals (CPICCE).

CPICCE, established on Feb 16, 2009, as a training and credentialing arm of the drug advisory programme in Colombo, Sri Lanka, is part of a global initiative funded by The Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) of the United States Department of State with a special collaboration with the National Association of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counsellors (NAADAC) of USA.

CUCMS is a registered and accredited private university with a focus on healthcare programmes.

According to its spokesman, the postgraduate diploma programme aims to develop trained professionals in addiction science who are able to screen, assess, construct treatment plan, and conduct individual- and group-level interventions for the treatment and rehabilitation of drug addicts.

This is to reduce health, social and economic problems associated with substance use disorders (SUD), he said.

An agreement was signed by CUCMS and CPICCE for the commencement of this programme with the effective date on Sept 1, 2015, for a term of three years.

Under the agreement CUCMS would receive from CPICCE the updated Universal Treatment Curriculum for Substance Use Disorders (UTC) for the programme, while CUCMS would prepare the PGDAS programme in line with CPICCE’S UTC series.

The first cohort of 13 health practitioners from 10 countries came for the one-year programme almost a year ago to acquire and apply science addiction knowledge and its fundamentals to the treatment of addiction, acquire and master practical skills required in the treatment of substance abuse, learn about interpersonal skills and social responsibilities with ability to work efficiently with all levels of society, and gain professionalism in dealing with clients and stakeholders, while observing ethics and social code of conduct.

The subjects of the course include treatment of SUD, physiology and pharmacology for addiction professionals, addiction counselling skills and psychoeducation, common co-occurring mental and medical disorder, community-based peer recovery support system, case management for addiction professional, community outreach and crisis intervention.

Two of the programme participants, Reema Samman, 30, an addiction counsellor at the Pakistan Anti-Narcotic Force and Dorji Tshering, 42, Deputy Chief Programme Officer at the Demand Reduction Division at the Bhutan Narcotics Control Authority, said they had the opportunity to exchange ideas, gain new knowledge and be trained in Malaysia’s hospital settings.

Dorji looked forward to returning home and begin the work of eradicating drug addiction in his country, as well as improving patient care.

“If you go by the number of people abusing drugs or engaging in drug trafficking in Bhutan, it is not much of a concern. But if you based it on our population, which is just about 700,000, it is a major concern. Every year the number of youth abusing drugs is rising, especially those taking designer drugs. The drug of choice is cannabis, which is easily available in the wild. The second problem is pharmaceutical drugs, which can be obtained from across the country’s border. There is also easy access to alcohol. Bhutan is the first country to ban tobacco, but we have a black market tobacco trade,” he said.

The Narcotics Department where Dorji has been attached for seven years, carries out prevention, treatment and rehabilitation programmes for drug treatment with the country’s Health Ministry. But there are no actual personnel with relevant qualification in addiction science as yet on the ground.

“I have attended short courses on drug abuse prevention and treatment before. The modules of PGDAS are more detailed. While we do have counsellors in our country, they are not trained in the manner we have studied here. There are processes involved that are lacking in my country, such as different skills and methods that are addressed in this programme. It looks at the more scientific aspect of overcoming drug addiction. I hope to address those missing elements and and bring changes in my country.”

Reema, who has been trained as a psychologist and has on-the-job training in addiction science, has been volunteering in drug addiction prevention in Islamabad for four years.

“In 2013, there were 6.45 million drug users aged between 15 and 64 in my country. The reason being we are bordering the biggest opium producer, which is Afghanistan. The harsh terrain at the borders makes it hard to control drug trafficking, and as part of the trafficking route, we are victimised,” she said.

She highlighted that heroin is a rising menace in Pakistan. And as in Bhutan, the younger population is increasingly into designer drugs.

“I have been involved in youth awareness campaigns on drugs. There is a large number of population addicted to drugs due to the instability at our borders as well as lack of employment. The addicts find a solace in cannabis and hard drugs,” she said.

For Reema, attending the PGDAS programme had increased her vision and her scope of competency.

“I hope I can implement the new things I learnt here with the existing system in Pakistan. The field is new there and at the private treatment facilities in Pakistan, there is no adherence to standards in addiction science. There are accredited professionals in treatment, but not in smaller towns. My stint here will give me the opportunity to give the same type of training to personnel in those areas.”

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Curbing child pornography

Wednesday, September 13th, 2017
Every image and video of child pornography posted online is sustained by actual child sexual abuse offline.

THE growing prevalence of information and communication technology (ICT) in the daily lives of even children entails an urgent awareness of the opportunities and risks that it brings. The primary promise of ICT is as facilitator and accelerator of information, education, knowledge, growth and innovation.

But, it can also be used to disrupt systems through distributed denial of service attacks (when multiple systems flood the bandwidth or resources of a targeted system, usually one or more web servers), and as the Stuxnet malware showed, even potentially destroy a nuclear facility.

There is also a dark, unsavoury side. The dark web, which hosts a collection of websites masked by anonymity and encryption, is abused and used for many layers of criminal activity — from illegal drug trade and assassins-for-hire to the sexual exploitation of children.

Child pornography is abominable enough, but studies and reports, including by the Internet Watch Foundation, have shown that some of the most vicious images and videos of abused children are traded online for obscenely lucrative profits. Last year, Interpol revealed that Malaysia ranked third in Southeast Asia for the ownership and distribution of  child pornography.

Every image and video of child pornography posted online is heartbreakingly sustained by actual child sexual abuse offline. Many of these acts of abuse, however, do not get prosecuted in the courts of law. Last year, Reuters reported that between 2012 and mid-July 2016, only 140 of about 12,000 cases of child sexual abuse reported to police resulted in conviction. This meagre rate signals a possible need to reassess our criminal justice system

Last week, the Dewan Rakyat passed the landmark Sexual
Offences against Children Bill 2017, tabled by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said, and supported by lawmakers from both sides of the political divide.

The bill was framed to enhance the protection of children from sexual abuse. It covers all the important elements to safeguard a child against physical and non-physical offences, including grooming, touching and stalking. The bill also covers extraterritorial application, which means if an offence under the bill is committed by a Malaysian against a child outside the country, the person may be dealt with as if the offences were committed on Malaysian soil.

To put it simply, the law is exercisable beyond Malaysian borders. Furthermore, several provisions in the Penal Code were amended to ensure expeditious prosecutions; an encouraging step to curbing backlogs as reported last year.

Importantly, there is a myriad of child sexual offences contained in the bill extending to the consumption of online child pornography. This particular category includes, but is not limited to, the viewing, production, sale and storage of such materials considered a prelude to child sexual abuse.

Prior to the bill, Malaysia regarded all pornography as illegal. The laws dealing with this offence and other activities under the category of obscenity could be found in The Printing Presses and Publications Act 1998 (PPPA), Film Censorship Act 2002 (FCA) and Penal Code. Both the Communications and Multimedia Act (CMA) 1998 and Content Code were formulated to generally address obscenity in cyberspace, but lacked in terms of apprehending those involved in child pornography. There was, therefore, no exclusive law criminalising child pornography.

Child abuse — sexual abuse, in particular — is abhorrent, forming repulsive fantasies of incest, assault, sadism and bestiality being perpetrated against a child.

However, curbing online child pornography is a global challenge. In some jurisdictions, the censorship of websites — even those depicting child obscenity or pornography — is argued as an infringement of civil liberties

In Malaysia, the government has promoted a non-censorship policy of the Internet under the auspices of the CMA, the Bill of Guarantees when it established the Multimedia Super Corridor and the Film Censorship Act 2002. However, over the past few years, growing public concerns prompted the government to ban pornographic websites.

Although access to the majority of pornographic websites is denied, there are always ways to bypass these restrictions. In the case of protecting children online, stringent measures are needed to ensure a safer Internet surfing environment.

The newly passed Sexual Offences against Children Bill 2017 adequately fills the gap at this stage. As the landscape of criminality evolves, there should be forthcoming enhancements to tackle the issue of child sexual abuse more holistically.


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Child sexual abuse: Is the punishment deterrent enough?

Wednesday, August 30th, 2017
The four defendants at the magistrate’s court in Kota Samarahan in June.

THE scene at the Sessions Court in Kota Samarahan was rather busy as reporters swarmed the complex, waiting for an important proceedings last Friday.

It was on that very day judge Marutin Pagan ended a six-year-long torment of a teenager and her younger sister from a village in Tebedu, near Serian, through his verdict against the girls’ grandfather, father and two uncles.

He had sentenced the four farmers, aged between 26 and 57, to 335 years of imprisonment after they pleaded guilty to 13 counts of committing incest with the victims between June 1, 2011 until last month.

The victims’ grandfather, father and the third defendant, the sisters’ 26-year-old uncle, were sentenced to 25 years’ jail for each offence.

The victims’ other uncle, 28, who faced four charges of having sexual intercourse with the sisters, was sentenced to 25 years’ imprisonment each for the first two charges and 30 years’ jail each for the other two charges.

All jail sentences for all of the accused were to run concurrently from the date of their arrest.

The four were also slapped with 24 strokes of the rotan each.

The older victim, who is 19, is 26 weeks’ pregnant. She was 13 when she became the object of lust of her grandfather, father and uncles.

Her younger sister is 14. Both victims have been placed at two protection shelters, supervised by the state Welfare Department.

As the department turns its focus to help the victims overcome the traumatic experience, the authorities were again confronted with a similar case involving a Form Three student of a religious school in Saratok.

The teenager, 15, confided in her school counsellor that she was raped on seven occasions by her father for the past three years. The father was arrested and has been remanded until Friday.

Preliminary investigations into the case, which is being probed under Section 376B of the Penal Code for incest, however, revealed a disturbing detail — the mother of the victim, who was the only child in the family, knew of her husband’s heinous act.

The woman claimed she turned a “blind eye” after she was threatened not to expose her husband’s wrongdoings.

Although there was no information how bad the threat was, the state’s statistics on domestic violence cases do not paint a good picture.

A total of 279 domestic violence cases were reported in 2015, and the figures drastically rose to 427 cases the following year. In the first seven months of this year, 323 cases have been reported.

The recurrence of sexual assault cases against children and teenagers by their own family members has sparked many arguments on social media.

Among the questions repeatedly asked was whether the present legislation is deterrent enough to set a lesson for others from committing the same offence.

Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Rohani Abdul Karim said she personally believed that no punishment was equivalent to the crime committed by sexual offenders against their kin.

“Personally, I don’t think the punishments stipulated in the present law are enough to punish these irresponsible people.

“This is irrational. How can they do this to their own children? I don’t know what to say, I am angered by this.

“We (the ministry) have carried out campaigns promoting good parenting and creating awareness of sexual crimes against children, but these cases still persist. I am baffled,” said the  minister recently.

Nevertheless, Rohani said the government was doing everything in its power to punish offenders of sexual crimes against children.

Such commitment, she said, was reflected in the setting up of a special court for sexual crimes against children in Putrajaya on July 4.

The court helps the prosecution team establish stronger cases against those accused of committing such offences due to the nature of the court. Similar courts will also be established in every state soon.

The state government has also conducted two surveys to look for ways to address problems relating to statutory rape cases and incest.

At this juncture, it is imperative to continue to educate children and teenagers about incest and sexual abuse.


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Youngest sextortion victim is 14

Friday, May 19th, 2017

KOTA KINABALU: The youngest victim of online sextortion in Malaysia is only 14 years old, said Head of the Consumer Protection and Complaints Bureau Department, Ratnawaty Talib.

She told participants of a seminar on empowering consumer rights yesterday that about 99 percent of sextortion victims were males between 25 and 45 years old.

She said a total of 300 complaints were received last year.

To avoid falling into such traps, Ratnawaty advised social media users to be vigilant and to abstain from accepting ‘friends requests’ from strangers through social media such as Facebook.

She said the amount extorted ranged from RM2,000 to RM5,000.

Ratnawaty said those extorting for money would threaten to upload the video(s) of the victim to YouTube if the money was not paid.

“Don’t panic. Lodge a complaint with MCMC which will report the matter to YouTube to take down the video.

If money has been paid, a police report needs to be lodged so that investigation can be started,” she said, adding that payment should not be made.

Meanwhile, computer users, particularly business entities, must take proactive steps for protection against virus attacks.

Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) Network Security and Enforcement sector chief officer  Zulkarnain Mohd Yasin said they must update their virus software constantly for protection against any malware attacks.

“When it comes to virus, protection is always better,” he told reporters at the seminar to empower consumer rights held at the Sutera Harbour Resort near here, yesterday.

by Jenne Lajiun.

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Parents take initiative to monitor children’s online habits.

Wednesday, May 17th, 2017

PETALING JAYA: Parents are taking proactive action to supervise their children when it comes to gruesome and unwanted graphic content online.

Tengku Mazlinda Tengku Mahmood, 37, a government-linked company manager, said she was concerned over the growing number of disturbing and graphic videos, which are easily available online, including on free video sharing site YouTube.

“There is so much inappropriate content lying around and there is no specific way to block them other than uninstalling the application on your tablet or laptop,” said the mother of two yesterday.

Tengku Mazlinda said she would try to monitor her children when they surf online, especially when it comes to watching videos or playing online games.

“I try to observe them as much as I can and some of the cartoon characters are fine.

“However, there are instances where they type certain words in the search engine and disturbing videos or graphic content will be shown,” she said.

“There must be some way for parents to block this type of content, which often gets lumped together with general content for children,” she added.

Journalist Charmaine Ng, 42, would monitor her children whenever they go online, but because of her challenging career, she said it was impossible to watch everything they do.

“So, I will try to teach them what violence and sex are. What is good and what is bad.

“I teach them to judge and decide. If they are not sure, they can always talk to me,” she said.

In the case of graphic videos, Ng said her children had chanced upon these many times and the second they see violence or adult content, they would sound the bell and stop watching alone.

“They would wait for me to watch together with them and explain to them or not watch at all, but wait for me to tell them why it is bad,” she said, concurring with other parents that there should also be some sort of control mechanism over such videos.
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