New court to order caning of juveniles
IAN STEWART in Kuala Lumpur
A Children's Court will be set up with the power to sentence young male offenders to caning.
The move follows government concern over a rise in juvenile crime and 'social problems' among young people.
In conservative Malaysia, children who idly gather at shopping centres are considered a problem.
The Children's Court, for people under 18, will comprise a Sessions Court judge and two advisers.
The court will have jurisdiction to try all offences by children except those punishable by death.
It will be empowered to order that boys receive up to 10 strokes with a light cane. Girls will be exempt from caning.
Young offenders may also be placed in the custody of a relative, fined or sent to reform school.
The Children's Court will not 'convict' or 'sentence' young offenders.
Instead, it will find a child 'guilty' and impose a 'penalty', except in special circumstances.
The Child Bill, which creates the court, also provides for the establishment of child-protection teams.
People who believe a young person has been sexually abused or neglected by a parent or guardian may notify the teams, which are empowered to take children into temporary custody.
The law stipulates that children suspected of keeping bad company as a result of poor parental supervision can also be taken into custody.