The statement by Bukit Aman CID director Huzir Mohamed that taking a photograph or recording a video of police carrying out their investigations is an offence under section 186 of the Penal Code is blatantly wrong and gives the impression that the police are afraid of being watched while conducting investigations.
Section 186 of the Penal Code states,
“Obstructing public servant in discharge of his public functions
186. Whoever voluntarily obstructs any public servant in the discharge of his public functions, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years or with fine which may extend to ten thousand ringgit or with both.”
The phrase “voluntarily obstructs” is unambiguous and refers only to situations where one actively does something that hinders a police officer from carrying out his duties.
How does a passive act of recording investigations come within the ambit of section 186?
It is not for Huzir to say if the recording of the police carrying out investigations is illegal as this is a matter for a court to decide after considering all the evidence pertaining to the matter.
Even the Inspector General of Police has mooted the idea of body cameras on police officers in the past, obviously for the purpose of promoting transparency in the investigation process.
Is Huzir saying that body cameras are also illegal?
Going by Huzir’s logic, recordings captured by CCTV cameras of police officers carrying out investigations would also be illegal which is absurd.
There is nothing wrong with recording a police officer carrying out his duties as long as this is done without obstructing him. In fact, this should be encouraged to promote transparency of the investigation process.
Huzir should stop making blanket statements like this and leave it to the courts to decide if a particular situation involving the recording of police officers is illegal based on evidence.
Dated this 10th of November, 2020.
MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT
CHAIRMAN NATIONAL LEGAL BUREAU
DEMOCRATIC ACTION PARTY