NGOs, lawyer object to Shahidan Kassim’s appointment into parliamentary select committee on women, children’s affairs citing track record
Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim is pictured at Menara Dato’ Onn after the Umno Supreme Council in Kuala Lumpur October 26, 2020. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 14 — Two NGOs and a lawyer have objected to the inclusion of Arau MP Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim, who was once charged for molesting a 15-year-old girl, in the parliamentary Special Select Committee (SSC) for women and children’s affairs.

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 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, 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 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”.