KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 14 — Arau MP Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim said that he was listed as a member of the parliamentary Special Select Committee (SSC) for women and children’s affairs without his confirmation.
He added that it was only temporary and that Parit MP, Datuk Mohd Nizar Zakaria, who is National Population and Family Development Board (LPPKN) chairman, will be taking over.
Speaking to Malay Mail, Shahidan said that he was already on several committees and does not need another similar role.
“I am already on two committees. What for too many?
“Because I was called for a meeting. I don’t know. They didn’t make the changes,” Shahidan said when queried as to why his name was then announced in the list of the final composition of committee members.
He said he entered the committee temporarily, pending a candidate selection by his party.
“I entered when there were no PN representatives as yet. I am the PNBBC chief,” he said, referring to his role in the Perikatan Nasional (PN) Backbenchers’ Club.
He said that male MPs were also selected to be on the committee, as there were not enough female MPs to fill the seats.
Two NGOs and a lawyer have objected to Shahidan’s inclusion in the committee, pointing to him being charged in 2019 for molesting a 15-year-old girl.
In a statement, StandUp Malaysia and Monsters Among Us as well as lawyer Azira Aziz said that they are deeply concerned with Shahidan’s appointment and demanded the head of the said committee to explain his appointment.
“First, we are aware that Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim, MP for Arau dealt with a child molestation case in 2019, however, mid-way through the case, the charges were later dropped by the complainant.
“Therefore, we are objecting his appointment in the select committee on two grounds. He has incomplete case investigation for child molestation charge, in which the complainants dropped with no further explanation.
“Member of Parliament for Lanang has revealed that Datuk Seri Shahidan himself has opposed the formation of the select committee during its preliminary approval stages,” the trio said.
DAP’s Lanang MP Alice Lau today said that the Umno MP had once even opposed the formation of the committee.
They pointed out that the duty of the said committee is to protect the rights of women and children in the country, adding that on this basis, to discourage anyone who have been accused of sexual offences to be included in it.
They said this is more so if the member appointed to sit in the committee does not believe in its objectives.
Others in the SSC include Rubiah Wang (GPS/PBB-Kota Samarahan), Che Alias Hamid (PAS- Kemaman), Nik Muhammad Zawawi Salleh (PAS-Pasir Puteh), Fuziah Salleh (PH/PKR-Kuantan) and Lau herself.
The appointment has also been opposed by many social media users due to Shahidan’s previous history of alleged sexual predatory behaviour.
Among others, child rights activist Syed Azmi Alhabshi said that a woman should have taken the Arau MP’s place instead.
In April 2019, Shahidan was discharged not amounting to acquittal today from a charge of molesting a minor, after the alleged victim dropped her complaint.
He was then charged under Section 14(a) of the Sexual Offences Against Children Act 2017 which handles physical sexual assault on a child by touching any part of the child’s body.
If convicted, he would have faced a jail sentence of not more than 10 years and whipping.
Shahidan was charged with sexual harassment by touching hands to the shoulders of a 15-year-old child in a Toyota Harrier car at the edge of the Tuanku Syed Putra Stadium at Kangar at 11.30pm on October 20, 2018.
The girl is said to be from a buskers’ group that he sponsored.
Shahidan had previously denied the charge and said it was all just a “misunderstanding”. He had also said that the police report lodged against him over the case had been withdrawn.
The father of the girl also reportedly stated that the matter had been amicably “settled” and the family had decided that there was no need to “blow it out of proportion”.
* An earlier version of this story listed Datuk Seri Noraini Ahmad as the Pari MP. The error has since been corrected.