MARCH 24, 2014
Deputy Home Minister Datuk Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar made a controversial statement in Parliament last week over the number of statutory rape cases in the country.
He claimed that, "It means most Malays are sensitive to underage rape cases, thus, more likely to lodge police reports; while non-Malays are probably less sensitive, so not many people come forward to make reports."
His remarks were interpreted as "non-Malays are more accepting about statutory rape", and immediately drew criticisms from ruling and opposition lawmakers, as well as from the non-Malay communities.
A total of 34 non-governmental organisations, including 13 non-Chinese organisations, have demanded Wan Junaidi to retract his statement and apologise, or they shall go to Parliament to hand over a protest memorandum.
Wan Junaidi has tried to explain with various excuses, and through his secretary, he claimed he was saying "Malays are highly concerned about it", instead of "non-Malays can accept statutory rape".
However, his explanation has not only failed to clear the doubts and convince non-Malays, but has worsened the situation.
From his statement in Bahasa Malaysia to the media, it made people to believe more that he had indeed made an indiscreet remark and offended non-Malays.
Malaysia is a multiracial country, but he used "Malays" and "others" in his remarks. Clearly, the "others" in his remarks were referring to non-Malays, including the Chinese, Indians, Ibans, Dayaks, Kadazans, Dusuns and other racial and ethical groups.
Among the 1,424 statutory rape cases reported last year, 80.5% involved Malays. The statistic could only reflect that Malays have accounted for the majority of the country's total population and it has nothing to do at all with the acceptance and sensitivity over statutory rape.
How could the deputy home minister rashly judge the acceptance and sensitivity of non-Malays over statutory rape based only on the surface data? The remarks are racially biased and smack of prejudice, as well as lacking sensitivity and hurting the feelings of non-Malay communities.
Rape is a criminal offence and no racial group can tolerate it. The number of domestic statutory rape victims has continued to increase, indicating an ineffective law and enforcement.
The Home Ministry must strengthen supervision over the police's efforts in combating sexual crimes, particularly in protecting the underage.
When responding in Parliament to questions on the country's statutory rape cases, the deputy home minister should come out with constructive suggestions and strategies to combat and prevent rape crimes, instead of viewing social order and crimes from a racial perspective, making remarks that could undermine national unity.
Since he has made a mistake, a public apology is necessary. More excuses will only draw greater resentment. – Sin Chew Daily, March 24, 2014.
* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insider.
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