Hannah Yeoh expects to be called up to Bukit Aman next Tuesday (June 23)

  • Nation
  • Wednesday, 17 Jun 2020

PETALING JAYA: Hannah Yeoh is expected to be called up to Bukit Aman over her Tweet about the future of the National Strategy Plan in handling the causes of child marriage next Tuesday (June 23).

The Segambut MP said this when contacted Wednesday (June 17).

On Tuesday (June 16), the former deputy women, family and community development minister tweeted that she had been called up to Bukit Aman over a Tweet she posted in March, questioning the fate of the five-year-plan to end child marriage under the Perikatan Nasional administration.

The plan was launched in January and contains seven objectives, 17 strategies and 58 programmes to be undertaken by 61 agencies in a bid to raise awareness and change the perception and stigma related to underage marriage issues.

Bukit Aman has yet to come up with an official statement on the matter.

Meanwhile, Sisters in Islam (SIS) and the Women's Aid Organisation (WAO) feel that the Perikatan government should continue with the National Strategy Plan, adding they have not heard much development about it since the new government took over in March.

SIS hoped the plan would not be forgotten, especially after Pengerang MP and Umno Supreme Council member Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said said the government should continue with Pakatan Harapan's plan to ban child marriages.

"Children in Malaysia would be better protected and have a better chance of reaching their potential if the minimum age of marriage was brought to 18 without exception for all," SIS said.

SIS added that a lot of work went into the plan and necessary resources should be channeled to implement the programmes without delay.

Meanwhile, WAO deputy executive director Yu Ren Chung said Perikatan should make its stand on child marriage public.

"Perikatan has not shown that it has taken any steps towards addressing child marriage as yet," he said, adding the country needs to urgently address and end child marriages.

The Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act 1976 puts the age for marriage at 21 but couples can be married at 18 with parental consent.

Women can get married at 16 if a licence is obtained from the Chief Minister or Mentri Besar.

However, state syariah enactments dictate the minimum marriage age for Muslims and couples may be married before 18 with the approval of a Syariah judge, or when there are physical signs of puberty.

In 2018, Selangor became the first state to raise the minimum age for marriage for girls from 16 to 18 to match the minimum age for boys.

Separately, both NGOs also said they were unhappy that Yeoh had been called up by Bukit Aman for asking about the future of the plan.

Yu said any person has the right to question, critique and have a say in government policy.

"Frontliners dealing with violence against children and women are already in short supply.

"We should focus our resources addressing these basic issues rather than conducting frivolous investigations," he said.

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