Should children be caned? M'sians in a tizzy after ministry proposes to outlaw act in court

Malaysians are up in arms over recent proposed laws regarding the caning of children.

Local media initially reported Women, Family and Community Development Minister Rohani Abdul Karim as saying that parents who use the cane on their children could be jailed under the proposed law.

The ministry issued a clarification on Sunday, saying it had only proposed to abolish the caning of minors in court.

At present, boys can be caned no more than 10 times if convicted of a criminal offence.

The Star quoted the ministry as saying: "However, in light of psychological development and in accordance with CRC (Convention on the Rights of the Child), the ministry has proposed to abolish the punishment."

But the proposed law would have a more detailed provision on actions which cause physical or mental injuries to children, including caning, Astro Awani reported the ministry as saying.

"The ministry is studying and scrutinising the proposal so that the legislation will cover all acts against children causing physical and emotional injuries deemed as criminal offences which could be punishable with heftier imprisonment or fines.

"Besides, the ministry is also considering alternative punishment such as community service or counselling or parenting courses," it said in the statement.

Caning was in the spotlight last year after a Malaysian couple was taken to court in Sweden for child abuse.

The man, who was then working as a Tourism Malaysia director in Stockholm, and his wife were charged with multiple counts of gross violation of a child’s integrity for hitting their children.

They were jailed and have since been released.

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Sources: The Star, Astro Awani

To cane or not to cane? Here's what has been brought up in the debate on caning in Malaysia.

Popular Islamic scholar Dr Mohd Asri Zainal Abidin

"There are no Islamic scriptures that encourage us to hit children. Furthermore, it is unfair to hit children who are not yet mumayyiz (the age at which one can discern between right and wrong)," he said.

"To arrive at the stage of caning requires a long process, however, even when it involves prayers, which is a fundamental issue in a Muslim’s way of life. So, when a father easily hits his kids, he is not a good father and has disobeyed religious teachings."

Perak deputy mufti Zamri Hashim

Child abuse cases should not be used as an excuse to "victimise" an Islamic way of teaching.

"What is more important is society should be taught how to cane their children properly so that it becomes an effective tarbiyyah (education)."

Youth and Sports minister Khairy Jamaluddin

"For me, when we say that caning children is a crime, most people would not agree.

"For us in Umno and Umno Youth, if said that caning is a crime, I don’t think we agree with that."

Source: Malay Mail Online

Related report:

M'sian jailed in Sweden child abuse case reunites with kids