THE response to episode one of Predator In My Phone has ranged from fear and disgust to outrage, but mostly outrage.
But rather than stew in anger, the public should channel their outrage towards a positive outcome – making child sexual grooming illegal in Malaysia.
Right now, intent to sexually abuse a child is not a crime in Malaysia. This means no action can be taken against a child groomer until he/she actually abuses a child.
The good news is pretty much all the stakeholders agree that new laws on grooming is the way to move forward.
The United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) is already working with R.AGE on a pledge campaign for laws against grooming.
The day after episode one was announced, Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar and politicians from both sides of the divide also told The Star they wanted anti-grooming laws.
So, now that everyone’s on board, what happens next?
If a new bill on child sexual grooming is to be passed, it would first have to be reviewed by the relevant ministry, after which it would be drafted by the Attorney General. Only then can it be entered into Parliament.
According to family law practitioner Honey Tan (who has been calling for anti-grooming laws), laws in Malaysia have been known to be passed in a matter of days if there is enough political will.
Given the amount of support this proposed law has gained over the past week, that shouldn’t be much of a problem.
A long road ahead
The drafting and reviewing of an anti-grooming bill could take anywhere from days to months, depending on public pressure and what needs to be discussed.
If all’s good, the bill will be tabled in Dewan Rakyat, where it will go through three readings. It will be debated and voted on.
If it gets voted through, it’ll be pushed up to the Dewan Negara, where it’ll be reviewed and discussed in the same manner.
Finally, our anti-grooming law will be submitted to the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong, who will provide his royal assent. If the bill isn’t approved in 30 days, it gets passed along anyway to be gazetted in the Government Gazette.
So really, the main part is getting the bill into Dewan Rakyat. To help make that happen, citizens can write (or tweet!) to their elected representatives, and tell them how strongly the people feel about this issue.
A clean bill
Tan believes that grooming should be a separate act of its own, rather than an amendment/addition to the Child Act or Penal Code, as more comprehensive legislation is needed in the fight against cyber sexual exploitation.
“If the government wants to, entire acts have been known to be passed in a very short time,” she said.
“But we should make haste slowly. Take the necessary time to legislate properly. Consult and share drafts with stakeholders.”
What you can do
Apart from contacting your MPs, you can also help pledge your support to the R.AGE and Unicef campaign at rage.com.my/predator.
The campaign has collected almost 4,000 pledges in the past week, but considering that the Predator video series has been viewed over 500,000 times, we can probably do a little better.
In 2012, close to 31,000 people signed a petition for stricter laws on animal abuse. The petition was sent to the Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister, which led to the amendment of the Animal Welfare Act (2015).
Tan stressed the importance of the people engaging with their MPs: “The cabinet is not obliged to take any note of any petitions. However, a high number of signatures would indicate the Rakyat’s concern.”
Pledge your support for laws against grooming at rage.com.my/predator.