LETTER | Condemn online death threats against elected reps

Kasthuri Patto

Modified 27 May 2020, 11:00 am

LETTER | DAP Wanita DAP condemns the cowardice, vile and criminal act of rape and death threats against two elected representatives from Selangor.

We stand in solidarity with all the survivors of online abuse, in all its forms and call for adequate women representation at all levels. It is clearly evident that with more women representation in decision-making positions from all levels – from community leaders, councillors, state assemblypersons, members of Parliament, ministers and their deputies as well as in enforcement and in the judiciary, including the Attorney-General’s Chambers will have a greater positive impact on how these issues will be better addressed.

Jamaliah Jamaluddin, state assemblyperson for Bandar Utama received rape, sexual violence and death threats by a Facebook user under the name of “Najid Nabi” which compelled her to lodge a police report in fear of her safety on May 20. “Najid Nabi” created his FB account on May 19 and has harassed these elected reps the very next day. 

It is clearly premeditated and is classic of a stalker targeting women on social media. He made this comment on a video post that featured Jamaliah, Lim Yi Wei, state assemblywoman for Kg Tunku and Maria Chin Abdullah, MP for Petaling Jaya which was uploaded on the March 5.

Time and time again, many social media users become victims of online harassment, be it sexual, racist and religious attacks, over differences in political ideologies, appearances, age and even nationality and they continue to suffer at the hands of these merciless monsters, predators who prey on mostly female victims.

And being subjected to vile, horrible comments targeting female elected representatives is something we all had to live with.

But why should we? There are legislations under the Multimedia and Communications Act that criminalises online bullying or harassment.

Section 233 (1) (a) and (b) of the Multimedia and Communications Act clearly states that: “a person by means of any network facilities or network service or applications service knowingly (i) makes, creates or solicits; and (ii) initiates the transmission of (a) any comment, request, suggestion or other communication which is obscene, indecent, false, menacing or offensive in character with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass another person; or (b) initiates a communication using any applications service, whether continuously, repeatedly or otherwise, during which communication may or may not ensue, with or without disclosing his identity and with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass any person at any number or electronic address".

Section 233 (3) states that: “a person who commits an offence under this section shall, on conviction, be liable to a fine not exceeding fifty thousand ringgit or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year or to both and shall also be liable to a further fine of one thousand ringgit for every day during which the offence is continued after conviction”.

Apart from that Section 506 of the Penal Code, under “Punishment for criminal intimidation", “[...] whoever commits the offence of criminal intimidation shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years or with fine or with both; if the threat is to cause death or grievous hurt [...]” can be also used to punish the perpetrators.

With heavy punishments like this, why hasn’t it been a deterrent for future online stalkers and abusers? And with increasing online harassment during the MCO, the authorities and enforcement agencies cannot rest on their laurels by labelling these accounts as fake accounts and to "advise" the complainant to simply ignore these threats and harassment.

A lax of urgency and action on the part of PDRM and MCMC to nab these sort of threats of murder and rape as opposed to abusers who target other high-profile personalities will continue to allow them to freely threaten with rape and murder. Today it is these two assemblypersons, tomorrow it could be someone in our family or our work colleagues.

This sort of harassment, death threats and rape must stop now.

We need our authorities, PDRM and MCMC to act with utmost importance and priority when handling cases of death threats, rape, cyberbullying, and sexual harassment online using the existing laws although we need a Sexual Harassment Act, amendments to the Penal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code and specific laws to criminalise bullying and cyberbullying to be passed and enforced before we encounter such an act again.

The writer is member of Parliament for Batu Kawan and international secretary for DAP Wanita.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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