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Tuesday October 22, 2013 MYT 8:33:00 PM
Tuesday October 22, 2013 MYT 8:43:17 PM
by loshana k shagar
KUALA LUMPUR: The Dewan Rakyat has passed amendments to the Penal Code, with two clauses withdrawn.
The Penal Code Bill, which sees new laws and enhanced penalties for certain crimes, was passed at 8.20pm after two days of heated debate.
Clauses 5 and 33, pertaining to insulting the national flag and vandalism respectively, were withdrawn as they were deemed better covered under other laws like the proposed National Harmony Act.
Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Nancy Shukri said the laws were passed in view of national security and public interest, including protecting victims of crime.
"Please don't reject the law, give it a chance. Besides, we have already dropped two provisions," she said before the Bill was voted on in the Dewan Tuesday.
Among the new laws include gang rape, criminal force against a spouse, the use of unrecognised honorary titles, increased penalties for repeat offenders, interception of communication, protection of witness identity, rewarding acts of courage against crimes and use of electronic monitoring devices.
During a debate earlier on the amendments allowing for harsher penalties for rape and gang rape, G. Manivannan (PKR-Kapar) had suggested a mechanism to consider the interests of both the victim and the perpetrator.
However, Nancy said the government had decided that the interests of the victim, the society and the nation were more important than that of the criminal.
A lengthy debate also ensued over Clause 11, which prohibits a person from revealing any information obtained in their professional capacity, with a penalty of a RM1mil fine and/or a year's jail term.
Chong Chieng Jen (DAP-Bandar Kuching) argued that if the clause was to be enforced, the Prime Minister would be making an offence when he tabled the Budget.
"In the eyes of the law, he would have committed an offence, but would anyone touch him?
"The clause seems to give the government the power to punish anyone at its whim and fancy," he said.
Tian Chua (PKR-Batu) also wondered if journalists who report news based on information obtained from government officials will also be deemed to have committed an offence.
An exasperated Nancy responded with "don't insult my intelligence" and proceeded to explain that the clause should be read together with other provisions that set the exceptions and limitations for the clause.
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