Tasek Gelugor MP Shabudin Yahaya has the right to either apologise or not regarding his remarks on child marriage and rape which caused public uproar, said Women, Family and Community Development Minister Rohani Abdul Karim.
She also said Shabudin has the right to take legal action, as he said he might, against media agencies and reporters.
“That is his right (to apologise or not), his speech. I do not interfere.
“He is very insistent that he did not say anything wrong and was very specific in giving his examples.
“If he wants to take legal action, he has the right to, because everything he said is in the Hansard. The Hansard does not lie, every word is written, one by one,” Rohani said when asked if Shabudin should apologise for his remarks.
She said this in a press conference after officially opening the National Makpem Social Protection Seminar 2017 in Kuala Lumpur today.
Shabudin had said he was mulling legal action against media agencies and reporters, following his remarks at the debate for the Sexual Offences against Children Bill in Parliament earlier this week.
He had said during the debate that statutory rape – sexual relations with an underaged girl, regardless of whether she consented – was a crime, but that there was no legal provision preventing a victim from marrying her rapist.
Shabudin, who is a former Syariah Court judge, also suggested that such marriages could be a remedy for social problems.
He has since claimed that the press had taken his speech out of context.
Meanwhile, Rohani said she believes Shabudin made his remarks based on his experiences as a former Syariah Court judge.
“It’s not that I want to support him but he was very specific in the examples he gave and it was given based on his experiences as a former Syariah Court judge.
However, Rohani stressed that her personal stance is that rape is a crime and that rapists must be punished based on their crimes.
“I made this statement three years ago where there was a case in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah where someone had committed a sexual offence on a 12-year-old child.
“My stand and statement is clear that rape is rape and that person has to be punished under the laws concerning rape crimes.
“But if they want to get married after that, that is another story,” Rohani said.