COVID19 should not be used as an excuse by the Minister or Deputy Minister for the Ministry of Women, Family and Social Development Rina Harun and Siti Zailah to rest on their laurels as there has been only ONE meeting in April 2020 involving stakeholders like Talian Kasih, PDRM of the Home Ministry and civil society to date

Today I had asked a question in Parliament on the numbers of calls received by Talian Kasih to report or inquire on domestic violence, sexual violence against children, suicide attempts and other cases from January till now and the Government’s action plan as well as aid provided for those who have called in.

The Deputy Minister YB Siti Zailah (Rantau Panjang) explained what Talian Kasih was and went on to reply my question stating that from January to November 14th, a total of 159,703 calls were made through Talian Kasih with 1847 regarding children, 2287 for domestic violence, 467 on homeless persons, 70,177 on welfare aid inquiries 4119 on counselling, 661 on disabilities, 359 on senior citizens. A quick calculation will also show you that the numbers don’t even add up! Only 79,917 calls have been accounted for, what happened to the remainder 79,786?

She also mentioned that the Minister Rina Harun (Titiwangsa) had chaired ONE meeting committee meeting in April 2020 involving stakeholders like Talian Kasih, the police and civil society. She had failed to mention when the next meeting will be and did not answer my question on whether Talian Kasih received calls on sexual harassment given there is nothing from the Ministry to indicate if the bill is coming up for debate in this sitting or not. No mention of calls by those who are attempting suicide.

With a significant decrease in events and programmes, the Minister and Deputy should be calling for meetings at least ONCE a month from April till now and make known what their action plan is for the future.

This sort of lackadaisical, ‘tidak-apa’ attitude is the reason why we hear of so many crimes against children, domestic violence and mental health issues on the rise and nothing robust, substantive and visionary from the Ministry of Women, Family and Social Development.

These alarming numbers paired with a passive, half-hearted, spiritless leadership by Rina Harun and Siti Zailah is a recipe for disaster as global data will show that domestic violence, sexual violence against children, suicide attempts, mental health issues and online abuse, particularly against women is on the rise and will climb if practical solutions are not put in place.

But what will the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development know of the importance and the value data or how critical and severe the situation is in Malaysia if they can’t even get their data right on Talian Kasih calls read out in the August House by a Deputy Minister?

Must opposition MPs constantly remind Ministers and Deputy Ministers to do the right thing? Must we keep chasing Ministries to share findings and future plans? Must we keep proposing to have non-partisan involvement of MPs to help Ministries map out their action plans and policies?

If yes, we are prepared and ready to do so but will Rina Harun and Siti Zailah listen?

Kasthuri Patto
DAP WANITA INTERNATIONAL SECRETARY & MP FOR BATU KAWAN
Media statement by Kasthuri Patto in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday, 17th November 2020