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KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 10 — The police today confirmed that recording videos or taking photographs of police investigations is not an offence, but said circulating such videos or photographs could affect the confidentiality of such investigations.
CP Datuk Huzir Mohamed, the director of Bukit Aman’s Criminal Investigation Department, today verified the chain of events that led to a student activist’s recent arrest over his recording of a video of a raid and streaming it “live” on Facebook at the same time.
Huzir confirmed that there were 42 police reports lodged over University of Malaya Association of New Youth’s (Umany) Facebook post titled “YDPA should not interfere in national affairs”, with the Kajang district police headquarters in Selangor currently carrying out investigations on one of the police reports which was lodged by a Malay man under Section 4(1) of the Sedition Act and Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act.
Huzir said that a team from the Kajang district police headquarters’ criminal investigation department had then carried out a raid on a house in Petaling Jaya, Selangor in line with Section 8(2) of the Sedition Act to complete the investigations.
In the Sedition Act, Section 8(2) states that a police officer of at least the ranking of assistant superintendent may enter and search a premise as if he were empowered to do so by a search warrant issued by a magistrate, if it appears to the police officer that there is reasonable cause to believe that any seditious publication is concealed or deposited in any premises and he has reasonable grounds to believe that the object of the search would be frustrated if the search is delayed by obtaining a search warrant first.
Huzir also laid out the details of the raid, noting that a raid officer who was wearing a police vest had shown his authority card to a Chinese man in the house before starting the raid, but said the latter had refused to give his cooperation and had locked the door from inside.
Huzir said a Chinese woman who claimed to be a lawyer and a Chinese man subsequently arrived at the same location, with the Chinese man who had just arrived then recording a video through Facebook Live using his mobile phone.
“The raid officer gave warnings several times for him to stop his action, but he still continued recording.
“Following that, an arrest was made on the Chinese man aged 23 because he disturbed the investigation process and obstructed public officers from carrying out their duties. Also confiscated was one mobile phone of the iphone brand with one sim card,” Huzir said in a statement today.
Huzir said the arrest was made under Section 186 of the Penal Code, which covers the offence of obstructing public servants from carrying out their duties. Under Section 186, the offence is punishable with a maximum two-year jail term or a maximum RM10,000 fine or both.
“This arrest is based on the law and existing provisions for the sake of investigations. It has to be reminded each investigation is confidential and cannot be simply revealed, what more if made viral on social media,” he said.
He said the police had taken the necessary actions after giving warnings, but said the Chinese man had continued his action of recording the video.
“The raid officer found that the man had disobeyed an order declared by a police officer who is also a ‘public servant’ as provided under Section 188 of the Penal Code,” he said.
Section 188 covers the offence of disobedience to an order duly promulgated by a public servant, with penalties involving imprisonment or a fine or both.
“The police stress that the act of recording photos or videos is not a criminal offence. However, in the interest of investigations, if that photo or video is shared, circulated and made viral in social media or in any way, it can disturb the police’s investigation process and is also contrary to the provision under Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 for initiating transmission with the intention of disturbing others,” Huzir said.
Huzir then went on to urge the public to always give their cooperation and to not disturb the police in carrying out their investigations in a more just and transparent manner, adding that stern action will be taken against those who intentionally threaten public order and security.
Huzir did not name any of the three individuals mentioned in his statement, but his statement comes after student activist and former Umany president Wong Yan Ke was arrested on November 7 for recording a video of a police raid and streaming it online through Facebook in real time.
Wong has since defended his actions by saying that the video recording was a precautionary move against vigilantes and as he could not at that time verify the identity of the unknown individuals who were said to be police personnel in plain clothes carrying out a raid on current Umany president Yap Wen Qing’s residence.
Wong has denied obstructing the police from carrying out their duties either physically or verbally, asserting that he was unarmed and had not caused any threat to the police and was merely recording a video.
Wong had also claimed that the police had used excessive force against him and that it was disproportionate to arrest him and detain him overnight over the incident, also maintaining that citizens have the right to record any law enforcement process.
* A previous version of this story contained an error which has since been corrected.