The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) has warned the public not to spread fake news pertaining to the COVID-19 pandemic that may cause panic and disrupt public order.
The MCMC also urges the public to refer to the Sebenarnya.my portal to verify the authenticity of a news posting. That aside, unverified news regarding COVID-19 can be channelled to the portal directly via https://sebenarnya.my/salur/ or the Sebenarnya.my mobile app to be verified by the Ministry of Health (MOH). The mobile app is available for Android and iOS.
Since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, the MCMC and Royal Malaysian Police (PDRM) have been clamping down and detaining people who spread false, unverified news pertaining to COVID-19. Since 28 January 2020, the MCMC and PDRM have arrested six individuals suspected to have spread false news about the novel coronavirus on social media and messaging platforms. The authorities picked up an individual on the first day and subsequently four more on day two.
A serious offence
Under Section 233 of the Communication and Multimedia Act (AKM) 1998, offenders can receive a maximum fine of MYR50,000 or imprisonment for up to a year, or both, and shall be liable to a further fine of RM1,000 for every day during which the offence is continued after conviction.
Individuals can also be investigated under Section 505 of the Penal Code, which carries two years imprisonment or a fine or both upon conviction.
The MCMC and PDRM are taking the matter seriously and continue to monitor various social media networks and messaging platforms for suspicious content.
A growing pandemic
Based on the latest figures (4 March) by the WHO, there are 93,090 confirmed cases (2,223 new in the last 24 hours) globally. Out of that number, there are 80,422 confirmed cases in China, with 2,984 deaths.
Outside of China, there have been 12,668 confirmed cases (with 2,103 new cases in the last 24 hours) across 76 countries, resulting in a death toll of 214.
Confirmed cases in the Republic of Korea, Italy, Iran and Japan lead the tally outside of China.
In Malaysia, there are a total of 50 cases with 21 new cases in the last 24 hours. There have been no deaths so far.
Header image: Shutterstock