Steps taken to tackle harassment issues, says minister

Rokiah Mahmud

Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Haji Awang Abdul Mokti bin Haji Mohd Daud yesterday revealed that the PMO is paying serious attention to the issue of general harassment – particularly sexual harassment – in the public sector, as put forward by appointed Legislative Council (LegCo) members during the 17th LegCo session.

“The PMO, through the Public Service Department (JPA), is formulating an initiative, in the preparation of the standard operating procedures (SOPs) or guidelines for sexual harassment, as addendums to the acts and regulations that are currently being implemented,” he said.

“These guidelines are in the process of further review by stakeholders, through the proactive approach of improving awareness among civil servants. It can also be extended as a point of interest for members of the public, regarding sexual harassment in the workplace, along with the procedures for risk prevention and in overcoming the issue.

“The first draft is expected to be produced by July 2021. The guidelines are intended to instil a Code of Conduct in the workplace and also as a reference for JPA. It will give a comprehensive explanation of the guidelines in the management of harassment cases and provide guidance on actions that need to be taken by authoritative agencies on any reports related to sexual harassment, as well as instructions on misuse and irresponsible behaviour such as making false reports.”

In acknowledging certain issues being faced by pregnant women and working mothers, Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Haji Awang Abdul Mokti said, “The government will continue to give attention to the matter, specifically in terms of assessing the needs and suitability, which can be added to the regulations in accordance with the relevant parties.

Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Haji Awang Abdul Mokti bin Haji Mohd Daud.

“At the same time, the best practices have been implemented in government agencies, depending on the consideration, good judgement and discretion from the heads of departments, in being flexible towards pregnant women and those who have given birth.

On the issue of succession planning in the public sector, the minister said, “The PMO, in collaboration with other government ministries, will continue to give attention to the assignment for chief posts and prepare the officers through the available leadership programmes.

“Integrated action from all parties – particularly from the permanent secretaries and heads of departments in each ministry, who bear the responsibility of managing their human resources – is critical in ensuring the efficiency of the initiative.

“On preserving peace and stability, as well as upholding the country’s laws, the PMO, with the cooperation of security and enforcement agencies, will continue to formulate strategy frameworks to maintain political stability and protect the country, in addition to connecting the defence and diplomatic capabilities, as a preparation for the country in managing security threats which include crime prevention and strengthening the capabilities of the relevant agencies in managing national crises and cross-border activities, particularly during the COVID-19 outbreak.

“The challenges of preserving peace and stability, are not only shouldered by security and enforcement agencies, but our shared responsibility. The cooperation provided by LegCo members as grassroots leaders, mukim penghulus and village heads, along with the community as a whole, is greatly hoped for in promoting a peaceful atmosphere and in crime prevention efforts.

“With this, I wish to thank members of the public who assisted the authorities in tackling crime by providing information. A number of criminal cases have been solved, by virtue of public assistance.”