Why no court action after gym Peeping Tom caught? Gerakan asks Penang hotel, cops

Opalyn Mok
The woman and her husband describe her ordeal of being filmed while showering in a hotel gym during a press conference in George Town June 20, 2019. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

GEORGE TOWN, June 20 — Penang Gerakan today accused the police and the management of a five-star hotel here of indifference and insensitivity to sexual harassment in the recent case of a woman gym goer who complained of being filmed in the shower without her permission.

The party complaints bureau chief H’ng Khoon Leng told reporters that the 30-year-old woman lodged an immediate complaint with the hotel and the police on June 9 after realising she was filmed while showering in the gym facility of the hotel on Gurney Drive.

He noted that 10 days had passed, but the culprit had not been booked even though there was a suspect.

“He was only taken in for questioning, his phone was seized for forensics and he was released. It has been 10 days, he was not charged yet. It seems the police have been desensitised to such cases,” H’ng said at a press conference at the Penang Gerakan headquarters here.

He also called on the hotel management to be more sensitive and responsive in handling such cases.

Also at the news conference was the complainant who recounted the Peeping Tom incident that she said happened at about 10pm.

The woman who wished to be known as Chan, alleged seeing a hand holding a cellphone in front of the curtain of the shower cubicle she was using. She believed the person was recording her. She said she could not see the person who was hidden by the shower curtain.

“I immediately called my husband and we went to the front desk to inform them about this,” she said.

The couple had asked for a CCTV recording to see who had entered the women’s bathroom at that time but claimed the gym management refused to let them look at it.

“We suspected that it was one of the gym staff so we told them that they must stop him and take his phone, but they ignored us so we went to lodge a police report that night,” Chan said.

She claimed it was two days later that the gym management, which was the same as the hotel management, showed her the CCTV recording which clearly showed a male staff entering the women’s bathroom twice that night — once without his phone and a second time with his phone.

She worried that the man could have downloaded the video and saved it at home or even spread it online since he was not stopped immediately after the incident.

“Despite our complaints to the hotel management, they seemed indifferent about it and only told us that if we want to cancel our gym membership, they would give us a refund and then they offered us buffet vouchers,” she said.

Chan claimed the man has been sacked.

Penang Gerakan Complaints Bureau Chief H’ng Khoon Leng speaks during a press conference in George Town June 20, 2019. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

However, she said she chose to highlight the matter publicly to ensure the hotel management changes its current practice and is more responsive to sexual harassment complaints from customers.

“We do not want compensation. We want the hotel to take responsibility and ensure the safety of its gym members, but it seems they do not seem to care. We are talking about sexual harassment. My videos could have been spread online right now,” she said, breaking into tears.

She expressed concern with the flimsy cubicle covering used in the gym shower room, saying such curtains could be easily pushed aside.

“Also, how could a male staff be allowed into the women’s bathroom? How could they allow this to happen? What if this is not the first time he has done this but he was never caught previously?” she asked.

She also claimed the gym has a membership of 300 people who pay a premium price to use its facilities.

H’ng said Gerakan is highlighting the incident to ensure there is no cover-up.

“The hotel management only started trying to arrange a meeting with Chan after she went back to take photos of the shower cubicles in the gym,” he said.

He reminded all fitness centres and gyms to be more aware and sensitive if such cases were to happen.

“They must ensure the safety of their members as this could happen anywhere and to anyone, even to men,” he said.

When contacted, Northeast District Police Chief Assistant Commissioner Che Zaimani Che Awang said Gerakan must write in if it wanted to know the progress of the case.

“Only the complainant has the right to know,” he told Malay Mail asked about the investigation.

Che Zaimani also said Gerakan can file a complaint if it is unhappy with police investigations.

“They are advised to lodge a complaint to the Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission or the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission which will be introduced soon,” he said.

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