Following the arrest of a suspect earlier, the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) in cooperation with the Royal Malaysian Police (PDRM) have arrested another four individuals suspected to be spreading false news about the Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV), also known as the Wuhan virus.
The four individuals were picked up in separate raids by the PDRM and MCMC in Melaka (two), and one each in Kedah and Pahang, the MCMC revealed in an official media statement. During the operations which were executed between 11.00AM and 5.00PM today, the authorities detained and recorded the suspects’ statements.
In Alor Setar, a part-time tutor aged 49 was detained at 12.00PM under suspicion that he uploaded fake news pertaining to the Novel Coronavirus to Facebook, on 25 January 2020.
Two pharmacy assistants aged 25 and 30 were detained in Peringgit and Merlimau, Melaka, respectively at around 4.00PM, to assist in investigations over false news posted on Facebook, on 26 January 2020.
Meanwhile, a student of a public institute of higher learning, aged 24, was arrested at 4.15PM in Kuantan, Pahang for allegedly disseminating false news related to the coronavirus on Twitter, dated 27 January 2020.
Four mobile phones, five SIM cards and two memory cards which were believed to have been used in the spread of the fake news on the novel coronavirus on social media have been confiscated in the stings.
Those caught spreading fake news may be prosecuted under Section 505 of the Penal Code, which carries a prison sentence of a maximum of two years or fine, or both.
Offenders can also be charged under Section 233 of the Communication and Multimedia Act (AKM) 1998 which carries 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.
The MCMC and PDRM are actively monitoring the dissemination of false news to ensure stability and public order.
Members of the public are advised to refer to the official Health Ministry website www.moh.gov.my/ or the World Health Organisation (WHO) (https://www.who.int/) for the latest updates on the 2019-nCoV.
Header image: 3D4Medical (visualisation of coronavirus)