Generally, you equate seeing policemen as something bad happening – either you’ve been in an accident, a victim of a crime, or you were caught doing something you weren’t supposed to do.
One time, the police decided to call you in to record your statement because you witnessed an accident happening but you couldn’t fit them in your schedule so you decided to blow them off. You even toss away the formal letter that they sent you. As you are relaxing at home, you hear a knock on your door and...it’s the police with a warrant for your arrest? You are flabbergasted and protest your innocence but they tell you that they are arresting you because you failed to show up to provide your statement when requested.
But wait. Arrests can only be made on those suspected of committing a crime; not failing to show up...right?
[READ MORE: How do I know if I'm getting arrested by the PDRM?]
Actually, the police can ‘compel’ you to come to the station
To understand what we mean by compel, we have to make reference to the Criminal Procedure Code (“CPC”). Section 111 states the following:
“(1) A police officer making an investigation under this Chapter may by order in writing require the attendance before himself of any person who from the information given or otherwise appears to be acquainted with the circumstances of the case, and that person shall attend as so required.
(2) If any such person refuses to attend as so required that police officer may report such refusal to a Magistrate who may thereupon in his discretion issue a warrant to secure the attendance of that person as required by such order.”
To break it down, section 111 is the section that gives the power to the police to call you in if you are a witness for anything that they are required to investigate and if you refuse to attend, the police can report you to the Magistrate who may then issue a warrant. This “call” would typically be done in writing (which also helps you differentiate from scammers and the actual police).
Generally speaking, when the police officer uses section 111, they are issuing a summon for you to come to the police station. As explained in the case of Karpal Singh v PP, a failure to respond to a summon means that a warrant can be issued for your arrest (this is also codified in section 111(2)).
This means that section 111 actually applies in the scenario that we gave you in the introduction; you must show up when the police calls you in and any failure to do so, can result in a warrant for your arrest.
The next question you may have is, what can the police do when you show up?
You can be examined by the police
A section that goes hand in hand with section 111 is section 112 because after giving the police the power to summon you to the station, section 112 empowers them to question you.
In addition to empowering the police to question witnesses, section 112 is also where you would find your privilege against self-incrimination. In other words, if you are a hardcore fan of criminal television, you may be more familiar with this phrase as, “you have the right to remain silent and anything you say can and will be used against you”. In part, section 112 reads:
“(1) A police officer making a police investigation under this Chapter may examine orally any person supposed to be acquainted with the facts and circumstances of the case and shall reduce into writing any statement made by the person so examined.
(2) Such person shall be bound to answer all questions relating to the case put to him by that officer:
Provided that such person may refuse to answer any question the answer to which would have a tendency to expose him to a criminal charge or penalty or forfeiture.
(3) A person making a statement under this section shall be legally bound to state the truth, whether or not such statement is made wholly or partly in answer to questions.” [emphasis added]
In essence, the police has the power to examine you as a witness and you are bound to answer the questions truthfully but you may exercise your right to remain silent if your answer may actually implicate you. At the end of the day, it’s as simple as...
If the PDRM calls, you go
If the police calls you in, it would be best to respond. Besides, your information may actually be a valuable part of the investigation and help the police nab that serial underwear thief, who knows.
On a more serious note, be wary of telephone calls claiming to be from the PDRM; it may actually be a scammer trying out the Macau scam on you (read more here). Always verify who is calling, never divulge personal information over the phone, and ask an in-person meet.
TLDR; if the police calls you to the station, you go. If the police starts giving out personal details online, you ask for their name, ID number, and station then drive there to verify if the call is a genuine one.