KUALA LUMPUR, July 25 — A new law criminalising stalking may be introduced in the future, but the Penal Code will need to be amended beforehand, Datuk Seri Rohani Abdul Karim said today.
The women, family and community development minister pointed out that stalking is currently not a crime in Malaysia, but added that amendments to the Domestic Violence Act would criminalise elements of stalking.
“In short, the act of stalking itself is not domestic violence, but if it reaches the level of threatening the safety of victims or communicating in a way that insults the modesty of the victim, it is domestic violence.
“However, the government will always follow developments related to stalking and will consider to make it a crime in the nearest future,” she said in her wind-up speech this evening on a Bill to amend the Domestic Violence Act.Rohani assured federal lawmakers however that she was engaging with activists on having an anti-stalking law and that she too desired to have stalking criminalised.
“But because I was advised that it would not be strong here [in the Domestic Violence Act], it would be stronger if it is standalone,” she said.
Later, Rohani told reporters that she had originally intended to have the act of stalking included under amendments to the Domestic Violence Act, but noted it was yet to be included as an offence in the Penal Code.
“But since the definition of stalking, even in the Penal Code, it is not an offence, so when it is not an offence we insert it as an offence… so [we are] afraid stalking alone cannot stand or be defined.
“So what has to be done, if we want to take the next step, the offence of stalking must be inserted as an offence in the Penal Code first,” she said.
Rohani said she welcomed the sharing and collecting information — such as those that caused emotional disturbances and deaths or suicides — in order to build up a case to introduce a law against stalking.
“We make a new law, but as I said, the Penal Code first,” she reiterated.
Earlier in the in parliamentary proceedings, Batu Kawan MP Kasthuri Patto questioned why the act of stalking was not included under the definition of “domestic violence” in the Bill.
“We know of many cases where the former spouse cannot let go of the (ex-spouse) so they will continue to stalk through social media.
“But if it’s not criminalised, that means we are giving them a free pass for them to continue stalking before they dare to act,” she said, citing two reported cases including one where a man stalked his ex-wife before shooting her and committing suicide.
The Domestic Violence (Amendment) Bill which was debated by 22 federal lawmakers was passed in the Dewan Rakyat this evening.
Under this Bill, the definition of “domestic violence” will be expanded to include two elements of stalking.
These two elements are “threatening the victim” with intention to cause fear for one’s own safety or property or another person’s safety, or to cause the victim to suffer distress; and communicating — including through electronic methods — with or about the victim with intention to insult the victim’s modesty.