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Physical and digital stalking set to be criminalized in Malaysia

By AYIE LICSI Published Oct 07, 2022 5:19 pm

Malaysia is the latest Asian country to tamp down on stalking after its Dewan Rakyat (House of Representatives) unanimously passed a historic anti-stalking bill.

The legislation seeks to criminalize all forms of stalking, including physical and digital, with a maximum imprisonment of three years or a fine. It also amends the country's penal code defining the crime of stalking.

"Whoever repeatedly by any act of harassment, intending to cause, or knowing or ought to know that the act is likely to cause distress, fear, or alarm to any person of the person's safety, commits an offense of stalking," the proposed subsection reads.

Subsection (1) states acts of harassment may include following a person in any manner or by any means, communication or attempts of communication with a person by any manner or means, loitering at a place of residence or business of a person, and giving or sending anything to a person.

Segambut Member of Parliament Hannah Yeoh added that acts such as doxxing, property damage, and spying could be linked to stalking, Mashable noted.

'Recognition of trauma'

The passing of the anti-stalking bill is considered a huge win for activists like the Women's Aid Organization, which has approached authorities to criminalize the act since 2014.

“We’ve had a lot of comments that it’s surprising that [Malaysia] didn't have anti-stalking legislation, because it seems like something that we should have had a long time ago,” head of campaigns at Women’s Aid Organisation Louise Tan told VICE World News.

She added that the discussion of the bill demonstrated lawmakers' "recognition of the trauma that stalking survivors go through."

In April 2021, a 31-year-old woman was stabbed to death by her boyfriend in front of two young sons. According to VICE, she lodged police reports against the man for breaking into her home and harassing her before her death. Police arrested him previously for trespassing but later released him.

“[Victims] would need to lodge multiple reports over multiple platforms, and each incident would only be evaluated on its own merits,” Tan said. “Rarely do they get the chance to show the totality of all the acts committed against them.”

Malaysia now joins a group of Asia-Pacific countries with laws against stalking. India, Japan, Singapore, and the Philippines have such laws in place.