‘Let’s stop sexual predators having access to children’

charles-santiagoPETALING JAYA: DAP’s Charles Santiago has called for a calm and rational response following the revelation that a former MIC branch chairman, who is also a Tamil school teacher, allegedly had sex with underaged girls.

The Klang MP said what’s more important is getting the mechanisms in place to ensure such predators do not get access to their potential victims.

“It is frightening that he has been off the radar for this long, despite boasting of having indulged in such liaisons over the last four years.

“There could be many more like him out there, with access to children and teenagers.

Santiago said that with this being the latest case involving teachers and school children, both girls and boys, it was important to expedite the move to prevent such incidents from happening again.

“It’s therefore pertinent to make a pre-employment screening and police checks mandatory for teachers, volunteers and others who work with children or have access to them,” Santiago said, urging the government to also strengthen the Sexual Offences Against Children Act 2017 passed in April.

On Tuesday, MIC treasurer-general S Vell Pari released a statement saying that a MIC branch chairman had quit the party after a clip of a voice recording sent to him revealed the man had tried to convince a mother to allow her daughter to engage in sex in return for job opportunities.

Santiago also expressed his shock that none of the students nor parents of the teacher’s previous victims had lodged a police report against him all these years.

“We must therefore not just create a nationwide awareness campaign but also establish a trusting relationship between authorities and the people so that survivors would come forward without hesitation to report such cases.”

Since the story broke, and it was revealed that the man was also a teacher, there have been many who called for his identity to be made public, with some threatening bodily harm against the 56-year-old teacher.

Santiago said this was not the way to handle the matter.

“I am equally enraged by the school teacher who offered jobs in exchange for sex with underaged girls.

“But calling for his identity to be made public and instigating violence against him aren’t the solution,” he said.

He added that the government must look into a sex offender’s registry and ensure that sexual predators and paedophiles have access to mental health counselling.

“And those who are back into the society’s fold must be closely monitored.”

Santiago recalled two cases over the past few years, one involving a Malaysian student in the United Kingdom and the other a British paedophile teaching children as a volunteer.

“In 2015, a Mara scholar was expelled from a UK university for possession of child porn. Mara however allowed Nur Fitri Azmeer Nordin to continue his studies in Malaysia after he served his sentence for possession of child pornography.

“Details of whether Nur Fitri had access to counsellors and was monitored are unclear.

“Before that, the BBC broke a story about Richard Huckle, who sexually abused and raped Malaysian Indian kids and videotaped the incidences that were then sold on the dark net.”

Aside from this, statistics have shown that the incidence of sexual abuse among Malaysians is quite prevalent.

Bukit Aman’s head of the Sexual Investigation Unit (D11) Deputy Superintendent Tan Gee Soon was reported to have said previously that Malaysia ranks third in Asean countries for possession and distribution of child pornography.

Then, last year, Reuters reported that 12,987 cases of child sexual abuse were reported to police between January 2012 and July of this year.

“Charges were filed in 2,189 cases, however, it resulted in just 140 convictions,” Santiago said referring to the Reuters report.