Malaysia clamps down on workplace sexual harassment
The Anti-Sexual Harassment Bill, which has been approved by the Dewan Rakyat, will be tabled in the Dewan Negara (the Senate) next month, according to Rina Harun, minister for women, family and community development.
Should it be approved by the senate, the bill would require royal assent before it becomes law.
“We are in the first process, to pass the bill, then to set up a tribunal with appointments to be requested from the Public Services Department and we are having discussions on these,” Rina said at a recent briefing for the media in Kuala Lumpur.
She said the new law would help to provide a safe environment for the public, not just at the workplace, but in public areas as well. According to the minister, an opinion poll showed that 87.5% of respondents stated that they would report sexual harassment to the tribunal.
Hence, Rina said her ministry would be holding a nationwide tour with non-governmental organisations and other related parties to create awareness and explain on sexual harassment.
The ministry’s deputy secretary-general, Chua Choon Hwa, said the tribunal would be empowered to require an apology to be made to the complainant and for the apology to be broadcast if the sexual harassment was committed in public.
The tribunal, which is expected to take a year to be formed, could also order offenders to pay compensation of up to RM250,000 (US$56,073) to be paid to the complainant, according to Bernama.