• YB Wong Chen

Criminalise Stalking, Adapt The Singapore Model

MEDIA STATEMENT: CRIMINALISE STALKING, ADAPT THE SINGAPORE MODEL Stalking is a crime in many developed countries, including Singapore, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, the UK and the US. However, in Malaysia stalking is not recognised as a crime but is often treated as a tort. My office has had to deal with many cases of stalking. We had cases of victims being stalked by ex-husbands, ex-boyfriends, ex-girlfriends and also by loan sharks. We witnessed first-hand, the trauma, fear and danger felt by the victims. Most victims were informed by the police that nothing could be done unless and until the stalker has physically harmed them. Studies around the world, confirm that stalking, if left unchecked, can lead to severe physical violence. A 2013 study by the Women’s Aid Organisation’s (WAO) studied 34 cases of domestic violence and found 26% of the cases involved stalking. Currently Malaysian laws under the Domestic Violence Act 1994, which was amended in 2017, provide an emergency restraining order (EPO) for women harassed by husbands or ex-husbands. However this protection is not extended to all victims who are stalked and harassed by ex-boyfriends, relatives or strangers. In 2017, the then Women, Family and Community Development Minister Rohani Abdul Karim, explained that the inadequate coverage is caused by the fact that stalking is not in the Penal Code. Hence to criminalise stalking, I suggest that we study and adapt parts of Singapore legislative experience in passing the Protection from Harassment Act 2014. There are essentially two steps that we must take. The first step is to include stalking into the Penal Code. The definition should be based on the offender having reasonable knowledge that the stalking activities would result in harassment, alarm or distress on the victim. The second step is to pass a publicly accessible, anti harassment legislation that will cover stalking, cyber bullying and other anti-social behaviour. For victims, protection orders should be made readily accessible. For offenders, hefty fines and/or jail term not exceeding 12 months should be introduced to deter first time offenders, and progressively tougher punishments for repeat offenders. Issues such as the frequency and duration of the stalking acts, the manner they were carried out and the likely harm on the victim’s safety and health should be given full consideration. On a related point, the government must start to earnestly gather comprehensive statistics on stalking and domestic violence, and thereafter make the information available. This will allow better monitoring and research to be done, hence help us find better solutions to tackle these social crimes. Lastly, I also urge the relevant ministries to increase resources and training for frontline officers to better handle cases of stalking and domestic violence. These resources and training should be given to police officers, welfare officers and personnel at hospital crisis centres. YB Wong Chen Member of Parliament for Subang 10 December 2018