The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) in cooperation with the Royal Malaysian Police (PDRM) have recorded statements of five suspects under investigation for allegedly spreading fake news about COVID-19 in various locations in Perak and Penang.
All five suspects are investigated under Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1988 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 MYR1,000 for every day during which the offence is continued after conviction. Individuals can also be charged under Section 505 of the Penal Code, which carries two years imprisonment or a fine or both, upon conviction.
The MCMC and police are collaborating through a Cyber Crime Committee to address the spread of fake news, especially about COVID-19, which could disrupt public order.
Up until 23 March 2020, the MCMC have received a total of 43 cases from the public, with 18 suspects already identified. Out of the total, six individuals including a celebrity have been charged in court under Section 505 of the Penal Code.
The MCMC continues to take the matter seriously and warns that it will take stern action against individuals or parties who spread fake news while the country is facing the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic. The commission reminds the public that or spreading fake news is a criminal offence. The MCMC and police continue to monitor various social media networks and messaging platforms for suspicious content.
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. You can also follow the Sebenarnya account on Telegram.
COVID-19 Situational Report
AS of 23 March 2020, Malaysia current has a total of 1,518 reported cases, with 1,345 under treatment and 14 fatalities. A total of 159 have recovered and been discharged. Two hundred and twelve new cases were reported, the highest per day cases since the outbreak started. Of the day’s total, 123 cases are related to the Masjid Jamek Seri Petaling tabligh gathering.