KANGAR: Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim has clarified that he did not propose a curfew on teenagers but rather a form of curtailment in certain places during specified hours.
He said the proposal was to restrain teenagers, aged 18 and below, from patronising areas gazetted as entertainment joints under the local council bylaws.
“It is not an outright curfew. I am not stupid.
“I am also a lawmaker and I did not specify the proposal as a curfew,” Shahidan said after opening the national integrity management secretariat meeting organised by the Anti-Corruption Agency here.
“Before I could expound on the proposal, I was shot down by several parties.
“These people (critics) did not read newspaper reports in detail.
“Now, there are reports of people wanting to sue me.
“I can counter sue them as it is just a proposal,” Shahidan said in reference to critics, including the Bar Council that the proposal was unconstitutional.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim was reported as saying that the proposal ran contrary to Article Five of the Constitution pertaining to a person’s freedom to move around.
Asked if he would meet Dr Rais, Shahidan said he was willing to meet the minister to discuss legal terms if the state agreed to pursue the proposal.
Shahidan insisted that the state government could pursue the matter by tabling it for discussion at the next state exco meeting scheduled this week.
Asked for his definition of the proposal if it was not meant as a curfew, Shahidan said he meant to put across a deterrent measure to prevent youths from patronising entertainment outlets from 10pm to 6am.
When informed that there were existing regulations which barred such outlet operators from admitting underage patrons –specifically those 18 and below, he acknowledged that such guidelines existed but questioned if they were effectively enforced.
He said the operators at times did not check the identity cards.
“What we are trying to do is to enact something to effectively curtail teenagers from patronising such outlets.
“We can study local bylaws and even Islamic laws to see how best to restrict youths from been embroiled in social ills,” he said, adding that the confinement was only for entertainment areas.
Shahidan also clarified that it was not his proposal but a well-intentioned suggestion from parents, teachers and headmasters throughout the country.
On views from certain parties that curtailing youths from enjoying social activities here might lead to more young people heading to Thailand for entertainment, Shahidan said this would not arise as the proposal was aimed at preventing such an exodus from occurring in the first place.