Stopping online hate against Malaysia's government bodies

Stopping online hate against Malaysia's government bodies
PHOTO: Reuters

CYBERJAYA, Malaysia- Those who use social media to incite hatred towards the institutions of government can expect severe action to be taken against them, said Datuk Seri Dr Salleh Said Keruak.

The Communication and Multimedia Minister said police would lead investigations alongside the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) to catch such abusers.

This was agreed by a special government committee formed to deal with social media abusers, in its first meeting on Tuesday.

A dedicated deputy public prosecutor has also been appointed by the Attorney-General's Chambers to ensure that offenders are "brought to justice soonest possible", the minister said.

"Social media is open to widespread abuse, and where such abuse results in defaming other individuals and public-office holders, it should be of concern.

"We need some monitoring mechanism now to avoid serious issues later.

"The committee agreed that stern action will be taken against those who use social media for the purpose of defaming, abusing or inciting others to belittle the position of or instil hatred towards the institutions of government," said Dr Salleh at the soft launch of the Malaysia Social Media Week 2016 at Limkokwing University of Creative Technology here.

He, however, said Malaysians should not misinterpret the Government's decision to crack down on social media abusers, saying it was to "safeguard the public's interest".

The special committee's meeting was chaired by Dr Salleh and attended by Attorney-General Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali and Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar.

Other members of the committee are Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said, MCMC chairman Datuk Seri Dr Halim Shafie and Communication and Multimedia Ministry secretary-general Datuk Seri Dr Sharifah Zarah Syed Ahmad.

At a press conference later, Salleh said the Government intended to amend the MCMC Act to give it more power to act against online defamation.

"We hope to table it in Parliament in March," he said.

Themed "Engage, Educate and Entertain", the social media week will be held at Berjaya Times Square Hotel Kuala Lumpur on March 7 to 13.

The event will feature the Malaysia Social Media Week Summit, social media awards, a workshop, roundtable discussions and a "Twitterthon".

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