KUALA LUMPUR: The Dewan Negara today passed two bills - Domestic Violence (Amendment) Bill 2017 and the Private Employment Agencies (Amendment) Bill 2017.
Both the bills tabled for second and third readings at Parliament’s upper house earlier today.
Among the Domestic Violence (Amendment) Bill 2017’s main provisions involved the enhancing procedures in granting Emergency Protection Orders (EPO).
Women, Family and Community Development Minister, Datuk Seri Rohani Abdul Karim in tabling the bill said it will allow social welfare officers to grant victims of domestic violence immediate protection, without the need to make a police report or receive a court order.
"The EPO would then be effective for a week, during which time victims could go to court to get a Protection Order (PO) or Interim Protection Order (IPO).
"The new law will expand the definition of 'domestic violence' in Section 2 of the Domestic Violence Act 1994 (the principal act) by inserting three new paragraphs.
"Domestic violence is no longer about physical or emotional abuse, or both.
"Resulting to which the will include the following circumstances:
'Dishonestly misappropriating the victim’s property, which causes the victim to suffer distress due to financial loss;
'Threatening the victim with intent to cause the victim to fear for his safety or the safety of his property, to fear for the safety of a third person, or to suffer distress; and, 'Communicating with the victim, or communicating about the victim to a third person, with intent to insult the modesty of the victim through any means, electronic or otherwise'," she said.
Another important change in the new law is contained in the amended Section 6 of the principal act.
The amended provision now empowers the court - if satisfied that it is necessary to do so for the protection and personal safety of the victim, child or incapacitated adult - to grant the right of exclusive occupation of the whole shared residence in a protection order to a protected person.
"Under the new amendment, the court is no longer allowed to grant the right of exclusive occupation of only a specified part of the shared residence to a protected person.
"The grant of the right of exclusive occupation of the whole shared residence to a protected person is to ensure the safety of the protected person.
"The EPO will act as an immediate temporary protection for victims from their abusers, without them having to lodge a police report or go to court," said Rohani.
The new amendments also states that offenders who do not comply with the EPO will first face a fine not exceeding RM2,000 or six months in jail, or both.
A fine not exceeding RM4,000 or jail of not more than one year will be imposed for violating the EPO with the use of violence.
"For the second and subsequent violations, there will be a fine not exceeding RM5,000 or jail of not less than 72 hours and not more than two years," she added.
Meanwhile, the Private Employment Agencies (Amendment) Bill 2017 saw an expansion of the enforcement provisions and offences of private employment agencies engaged in recruitment activities.
The bill was tabled by Deputy Human Resource Minister Datuk Ismail Muttalib to amend the Private Employment Agencies Act 1981, spelling out in more detail the procedure for application for licence, the conditions and fees imposed and other related matters.