Bills on stalking to be retabled in Dewan Rakyat after Cabinet approval, says Ramkarpal

PETALING JAYA: The Bills to amend laws to make stalking a crime in Malaysia will be retabled in the Dewan Rakyat following Cabinet's approval, says Ramkarpal Singh (pic).

The Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister's Department in charge of law and institutional reforms said the retabling of the two Bills is procedurally necessary and will come with further improvements.

"Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said, the minister in charge of law and institutional reforms, will submit a paper to the Cabinet on the matter soon.

"Depending on the Cabinet's approval, both Bills will be retabled in the coming Dewan Rakyat meeting in Parliament," he said in a statement on Wednesday (Feb 8).

He added the changes to the earlier Bills were made following feedback from various stakeholders during several engagement sessions held since January this year.

Based on the feedback, he said improvements would be made to the Bills to ensure that more focus is given to the crime of stalking in a more holistic approach covering all legal aspects.

On Aug 4 last year, the previous administration tabled two Bills to amend the Penal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) to fill the lacuna in the anti-sexual harassment law which was passed by the Dewan Rakyat in July the same year.

The anti-sexual harassment law dealt with the issue in a civil manner, requiring further amendments to criminalise stalking as an offence.

However, the Bills were not tabled in Dewan Negara as Parliament was dissolved on Oct 10 to pave the way for the 15th General Election (GE15).

The amendments were passed by the Dewan Rakyat on Oct 3 which saw the introduction of a new section 507A under the Penal Code and a new chapter into Act 593 under the CPC.

The new section Section 507A states that a person is deemed to have committed stalking if the individual repeatedly, by any act of harassment, intends to cause - or ought to know that such an act causes - distress, fear or alarm to any person with regard to their safety.

Those convicted may be sentenced to imprisonment of not more than three years, or a fine, or both.

As for the CPC, the amendment empowers the court, upon application, to issue a protection order against a person who is being investigated for, or is charged with, an offence of stalking under the new Section 507A.

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