SOME years back the Malaysian Bar did a great service to the public by publishing a red book Police & Your Basic Rights. It informs the public of their rights when stopped by police. The public can easily take guidance from the book when stopped at police roadblocks.At a roadblock, police are expected to be in uniform. So, note his name and the identification number on his uniform. If police ask for your identification, only give your name, MyKad number and address. Note that giving a phone number is not required.Police are authorised to stop you and ask where you are going at it is now movement-control order (MCO) where interdistrict and interstate travels are prohibited and will remain prohibited under conditional MCO (CMCO).So, you will have to obey the police officer’s instructions when he is carrying out his duty.Now, under section 24(2) of the Police Act 1967, police may arrest without warrant any person who fails to produce a driving licence when called upon to do so unless he gives his name and address and satisfies the police officer that he will duly answer any summons or other proceedings that may be taken against him.Under section 23(1) of the Criminal Procedure Code, police may also arrest without warrant any person who obstructs a police officer while in the execution of his duty.Obstruction is “some interruption or hindrance to the progress of work being carried out by a public servant in the discharge of his public duties, and such public servant may be directly or indirectly obstructed.” (PP v Bahadar Khan  1 MLJ 180)In simpler words, obstruction is to do an act that makes it more difficult for a public servant to carry out his duties. (Tan Teck Yam v PP  1 MLJ 57)That said, police are clearly empowered to arrest without warrant.But police are not above the law – no one for that matter. There are penal laws in the country. Section 509 of the Penal Code, for example, makes it an offence if one, “intending to insult the modesty of any person, utters any word, makes any sound or gesture, or exhibits any object, intending that such word or sound shall be heard, or that such gesture or object shall be seen by such person, or intrudes upon the privacy of such person.”The offender shall be punished with imprisonment for a term that may extend to five years or with fine or with both upon convicted.The Penal Code aside, there should be a specific penal law that makes it an offence if a person, with intent to cause harassment, alarm or distress to another person, uses any threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour; or makes any threatening, abusive or insulting communication thereby causing that other person or any other person harassment, alarm or distress.It is part of sexual harassment law, which is long overdue in Malaysia.That aside, what say the Malaysian Bar they disseminate the red book again? – February 17, 2021.* Hafiz Hassan reads The Malaysian Insight. * This is the opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insight.
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