Prime Minister opens up about his feelings, laments lack of public awareness due to reluctance to discuss issue seen as taboo.
KUALA LUMPUR: Prime Minister Najib Razak today expressed revulsion at the prevalence of sexual abuse on children in Malaysia, vowing that the government will go all out to fight the scourge.
In a rare show of emotion, Najib recalled being beside himself with rage every time he heard about the mistreatment and exploitation of the young.
“The country’s future, which is the children of today, can be destroyed if they become victims of sexual abuse,” he said, calling on all parties to demonstrate that Malaysia will not tolerate such crimes.
“I remember there was a report about a three-year-old child who was abused by his mother’s boyfriend. I was so angry. I was boiling (inside) because the child, who was supposed to receive love from his parents, was treated cruelly until he died.
“That’s why we must talk about this issue and scrutinise it from all angles. Child abuse, sexual abuse and exploitation must be stopped immediately,” said Najib.
He was speaking at a two-day national seminar on child sexual crimes at the Putra World Trade Centre here today.
Also present was his wife Rosmah Mansor who is patron of Permata, a child education and welfare organisation. Others at the seminar included former Indonesian president Megawati Soekarnoputri, Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Azalina Othman Said.
Commending Rosmah for organising the seminar, Najib said Permata had not only brought the topic of child sexual abuse to a national platform, but presented the government with the opportunity to draft appropriate actions to combat the growing problem.
He said society had to change its mindset and stop treating the subject as taboo.
“There was a report of an eight-year-old who was raped by her own father,” he recalled.
“She was not only raped, but threatened and hit to keep quiet (about it) until her school noticed what had happened to her and reported it.
“I can’t imagine how a father can do something that is so wrong on moral and religious levels,” he said.
“But public awareness of the issue is still lacking because of the reluctance to discuss sexual abuse which is seen as taboo. I hope this seminar can help change our society’s mindset.”
Najib said sexual crimes against children were among the worst of offences because the experience affected the victims well into adulthood.
It is for this reason that the law against child sexual abuse, which the government is currently drafting, should not be objected to by “any political party”, he said.
“Because this (fighting child sexual abuse) is everyone’s responsibility regardless of our political or ideological differences,” he said.