‘Stalking’ to be an offence


On track: With technology, anyone can be ‘tracked’ online, Azalina explained in Parliament. — Bernama

TRACKING, or non-physical stalking, will be an offence, just as physically stalking a person is an offence under amendments to the law, says Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said.

“The whole idea with technology is that stalking is no longer just physical.

“We have to do something with such technology,” the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of law and institutional reforms told reporters yesterday.

“Tracking” could be done without consent through an individual’s mobile phone, she explained.

Azalina said details of the amendments would be made clearer by her deputy Ramkarpal Singh when the Bills were up for second reading in Dewan Rakyat.

Earlier, the minister tabled the two Bills to amend the Penal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC).

The amendments will see a new Section 507A created under the Penal Code, which 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.

It also defines stalking to include following or tracking a person in any manner or means including communicating, loitering at the place of residence or business of a person, giving or sending anything in any manner or means to that individual.

Those convicted for the offence face a jail term not exceeding three years, fine or both.

Also amended is Section 98A under the CPC, which will empower the court 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.

The protection order can be made by the victim or through the victim’s lawyer or guardian.

The suspect who contravenes the order faces a one-year improvement, fine or both.

On Aug 4 last year, the last administration tabled Bills to amend the Penal Code and the CPC to fill the lacuna in the anti-sexual harassment law which was passed by the Dewan Rakyat the month before.

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

Under the sexual harassment law, a victim can request for a public apology and paid compensation.

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.

Meanwhile, Azalina informed Dewan Rakyat Deputy Speaker Alice Lau that the Bills would be read for the second time during the current meeting, which began on Feb 13 and will end on April 4.

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At The Dewan Rakyat

   

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