by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, in Penang on Saturday, May 14, 1994:
Dewan Rakyat should consider at its July meeting new amendments to the Domestic Violence Bill passed on Thursday as it has many serious flaws which will result in inadequate protection for women
DAP fully agrees with the Joint Action Group on Violence Against Women (JAG) that the Domestic Violence Bill passed by the Dewan Rakyat on Thursday just before midnight has many serious flaws which would result in inadequate protection for women.
In fact, four DAP MPs spoke of some of these flaws in Parliament on Thursday, namely DAP MP for Petaling Jaya, Dr. Kua Kia Soong, DAP MP for Bukit Bintang, Wee Choo Keong, DAP MP for Kepong, Dr. Tan Seng Giaw and myself.
However, we could not deal at length and with the depth that we had wanted about the flaws in the Domestic Violence Bill, because had we done so, the Domestic Violence Bill would not be passed on Thursday as there is a rule that as Thursday was the last sitting of the Parliamentary meeting Bills not passed by midnight would be deemed to have lapsed.
AS a result, DAP MPs were in a dilemma on Thursday night – whether to debate in depth about the flaws in the Domes¬tic Violence Bill and cause the Bill to lapse at midnight, or to allow the Bill with its many flaws to be passed first and to seek amendments later.
During the Committee stage of the Domestic Violence Bill, for instance, I expressed my dissastisfaction at the an¬swers given by the Minister for National Unity and Social Development Minister, Datuk Napsiah Omar, when I pointed out that the unsatisfactory drafting of the Bill may mean that women would not get the protection under the Act as was intended – whether it be interim protection order or permanent protection order!
While the DAP supported a Domestic Violence Act, we are most unhappy with the weak provisions and flaws in the Bill.
Had DAP MPs insisted on a full debate and examination of the various flaws in the Domestic Violence Bill, it would mean that the Bill which women’s organisations had been lobbying for a decade would lapse at midnight and could not be passed.
Some Barisan MPs wanted to ‘kill’ Domestic Violence Bill because they are opposed to the whole concept of such a Bill
DAP MPs were also aware of another development, that there were Barisan Nasional MPs who had wanted to ‘kill’ the Domestic Violence Bill – not because of the flaws in the provisions which would not be able to provide adequate protection to women, but because they were opposed to the whole concept of a having a Domestic Violence Bill.
In fact, a few hours before the Minister for National Unity and Social Development, Datuk Napsiah Omar, presented the Sill in the Dewan Rakyat for second reading just before 10 p.m., she was under intense pressure by these Barisan Nasional MPs to withdraw the Bill altogether.
In view of these circumstances, DAP decided to forgo detailed debate and examination of the provisions of the Domestic Violence Bill and to have it passed by Dewan Rakyat and placed on the statute books first, and then work for amendments to the Domestic Violence Act to rectify its shortcomings.
When Dewan Rakyat adjourned after the passage of the Domestic Violence Bill and the Married Women (Amendment) Bill on the clot of midnight on Thursday, I told the Minister for National Unity and Social Development, Datuk Napsiah Omar as we were leaving Parliament House that DAP was most unhappy with the drafting and defects in the, provisions of the Domestic Violence Bill, and the Minister promised to look into them.
Dewan Rakyat should consider at its July meeting amendments to the Domestic Violence Act so as to rectify the serious flaws in the Act.