That's enough: Govt to charge those who spread fake news on coronavirus

  • Nation
  • Wednesday, 05 Feb 2020

PETALING JAYA: The government has launched a crackdown on those who spread bogus information relating to the novel coronavirus on social media.

Attorney General Tan Sri Tommy Thomas said those who initiate and disseminate lies on any issue relating to coronavirus on the Internet would be investigated and charged, if there was a case to be made.

“The Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC) is working closely with the police, the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) and other agencies to prevent the spread of false statements.

“I take very seriously the incredible volume of lies relating to the coronavirus epidemic gripping the attention of Malaysians, and, indeed, across the globe, and the AGC is determined to prevent the spread of false statements.

“Our health authorities must be allowed to deal with the problem in a calm and measured manner, without having to cope with extraneous matters, ” he said in a statement on Wednesday (Feb 5).

Thomas said charges would be made against the individuals concerned in the coming days.

“The statutorily guaranteed freedom of free speech and expression, and the right not to censor the Internet, do not give a license to propagate lies.

“Whether in private dealings or in the public and national affairs of the state, truth is paramount.

“When times of epidemic or pandemic crisis occur in any society, it is critical that truthful and honest statements are issued by health authorities on a regular and prompt basis, so that the millions of individuals who make up a society can themselves make informed decisions relating to their own health and safety, and that of their loved ones, ” he said.

He added that panic must be prevented among the citizenry, and that the authorities should guide the people on the origins, scale and magnitude of an outbreak calmly and firmly.

Thomas said lies about the origins, scale and magnitude of the disease must not be permitted because they would endanger public safety.

“That rumour-mongering is repugnant to common decency is most pronounced at such times in our national lives.

“The credibility of the Internet as the pre-eminent source of news and information is therefore vital, ” he said, adding that the phenomenon was compounded by the obsession to introduce racial or religious overtones into every issue of public life.

“Hence, lies on the Internet connecting coronavirus to any particular ethnic or religious group is not only deplorable but inflammatory in our plural society of numerous ethnic and religious groups, ” he added.

Article type: metered
User Type: anonymous web
User Status:
Campaign ID: 1
Cxense type: free
User access status: 0
Subscribe now to our Premium Plan for an ad-free and unlimited reading experience!

Tommy Thomas , AGC , AG , fake news , coronavirus , charges


Next In Nation

Kuwaiti court sentences Jho Low to 10 years in prison
Change focus to keep dengue at bay, say health experts
More benefits from the Budget
Stamping out stalkers and spycams
Sulaiman steps down as CM
Stricter laws to protect children
For some Malaysians, the forbidden fugu is a delicacy
Couple unaware of toxins
Loopholes in new law need to be plugged, say experts
Four children die as house in Muar razed

Others Also Read