Recording of videos or pictures of cops on duty: Need for lawyers to interpret the law for the public — Desmond Teo

NOVEMBER 12 — The invention of the smartphone has enabled many to become “reporters on the scene”. Technology should enhance not hamper the new possibilities.

For example, with mobile phone cameras nowadays, it allows anyone to take pictures or videos and self-broadcast on YouTube or on some messaging apps like WhatsApp.

However, like many other things in our beloved Malaysia, doing so can turn you into a criminal if what this article says is true with regards to the laws of the land.

I urge lawyers to come forward to interpret the law for us because to any ordinary person like me, it makes one wonder how recording a video of an arrest can be considered as an “irresponsible act capable of disturbing public order”.

How can a video clip even if viralled be construed as interfering in a police investigation if it only shows our PDRM personnel discharging their duties, unless there is something that needs to be hidden from public view, which usually means unethical conduct. Police personnel should be above board and be subjected to criticisms if they fail to deliver their job professionally.

My question to lawyers is simple: Facts and information on the case can be confidential but is every investigation confidential, and should the public be deprived of any knowledge of what really transpired if there is an investigation? Would this ensure there is a better checks and balances in this nation?

If sharing such videos constitutes interfering in an investigation, then TV stations in the country should not be broadcasting clips of raids on vice activities in nightclubs or rounding up of illegals that is seen by an audience of millions on TV. This would also be an infringement of the law, would it not?

The police cannot and should not decide what is good for public consumption and what is not, especially when it involves a member of their own force.

So if we are to use the same yardstick as dictated by this reminder to the public that “every investigation being carried out is confidential and cannot be arbitrarily revealed, what more, viralled on social media” does it mean that recording a crime is a crime in itself if it involves recording members of the police force committing a crime?

Even when a member of the public wishes to report to the disciplinary master at Bukit Aman or to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), he or she would have to furnish evidence.

What worries a lot of people is that after the evidence is submitted, the response is not there, and the case is kept as “No Further Action.”

Many years ago, a well-known radio personality was hauled up by our men in blue for sharing on his morning show what he claimed was a traffic policeman taking a bribe. He was accused of bringing the police force into disrepute by alleging that the police take bribes and thus tarnishing the image of the whole police force. But, ask any Joe on the street to see if what was uttered by the deejay is true.

If it was today and instead of a verbal allegation, the deejay had a video recording of the incident which went viral, would he then be charged for an irresponsible act capable of disturbing public order?

Is sharing of videos like that of Pastor Raymond Koh’s abduction that went viral also an interference in the investigation? Shouldn’t such videos that are shared be considered an additional resource for the police investigation as it may provide more details that can lead to catching the real criminals?

Such videos also help our law enforcers to maintain their professionalism and discourage them from breaking the law themselves in the discharge of their duties.

Once again it looks like the rakyat is being intimidated by the very people who are supposed to protect them.

Sad to see how our beloved country seems to be heading towards becoming more and more an authoritarian nation where you are not permitted to even make a comment, criticise or even joke about a public figure without risk of arrest. Now added to the list, no pictures or videos too!

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail.

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