In the heat of MCO due to rising Covid-19 cases in Malaysia, many roadblocks have been set up in effort to reduce unnecessary and prohibited inter-state travels, especially during this MCO period. Almost everyone who travels on the road will be subjected to roadblocks, more often than ever before.
A very recent sexual harassment case at a roadblock in Jalan Duta that went viral on Twitter has called for heightened awareness on the need to know your rights at roadblocks. However, how much do you know about your rights at these roadblocks?
We need to understand the different types of common offenses and the entailing consequence in the event of any failure to adhere to the rules or law. All police have a standard operating procedure (SOP) for roadblocks during the MCO. The police are authorised to stop you and ask where you are going (during the MCO), and whether you are going on inter-district or interstate travel. For those who are travelling interstate, you will be required to produce a letter of authorisation issued by the police station nearest to your place of residence. In Failure to provide such authorization letter, police have the right to ask you to turn back.
Besides that, they are also authorised to ask for your driving license and identity card for checking purposes. If you as a driver or road user cannot produce your driving license but have your identity card, a summons can be issued by the enforcers. However, you cannot be arrested as this is not a crime that warrants an arrest. On top of that, the officer in charge may not ask for your phone number as well.
One key highlight from the recent sexual harassment case is that action could be taken against any enforcement personnel under Section 509 or 354 of the Penal Code if a he/ she threatens arrest or demand “payment” in the form of sexual favours. This includes both touching and/ or looking. In the event of any inappropriate encounter or treatment from any of the enforcers, be sure to note down where the incident happened, the name and identification number on their uniform and then lodge a police report as soon as possible.
In a nutshell, we must always be wary of our basic rights to life, liberty and personal security. Authorities such as police and any other enforcement personnel need to respect these basic rights as well. Never subdue to undue pressure in the name of law enforcement. Whenever in doubt, seek for further help and consultations. Be a wiser Malaysian today!