New rules mulled after activist’s death


PETALING JAYA: A social media influencer and activist lodged a police report on Thursday expressing fears of being raped and killed before being found dead in her condominium.

Rajeswary Appahu, 30, a Hindu rights activist, had named two individuals in her reports, lodged at the Dang Wangi police station, alleging they were tormenting her by trolling her on social media platform TikTok.

In her main report, sighted by The Star, Rajeswary claimed she was trolled and harassed in a live session with threats and vulgarity by an individual on TikTok.

Rajeswary, who is known as Esha on social media, said the person had used her photo and made several threats to “rape and kill” her as well as “injure” her.

“He said that he had a gang to back him up and also encouraged his followers to forward the live session (link) to me,” Rajeswary had stated in the report.

Besides the alleged perpetrator’s sexual and lewd comments, she said many of those watching the session had also levelled abuse against her.

Rajeswary was one of the organisers of the mass recital of the Kanda Shasti hymn at the Batu Caves Sri Subramaniar Swamy Temple held last month.

Her distraught father P. Appahu, 62, who is a temple caretaker, said: “She was a very strong person. I can’t understand why this happened.’’

Meanwhile, Communications Minister Fahmi Fadzil said he will meet with TikTok representatives next week to discuss the governance of the social media platform.

Other agencies such as the Malaysian Communication and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) and the Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC) will also be in attendance, he said.

“Even though we have repeatedly reminded the public to be careful about the things they upload so that something like this would not happen, it seems like our assertions were not enough.

“In terms of the governance and management of social media platforms, I have already expressed my sadness and anger to them because we see that they are not cognisant of the seriousness of cyberbullying.

“That is among the reasons why we need to examine the management of social media platforms.

“Insya-Allah, in a few days, I will call for a meeting between MCMC, TikTok, AGC and several others for us to discuss in detail based on complaints received,” Fahmi said to reporters at the sidelines of an event yesterday.

The minister expressed his sorrow when he received the news about the activist and said the government is committed to bringing the perpetrators to justice.

“But what we want is a systemic change because we are not sure how many people who may be suffering in silence due to cyberbullying,” Fahmi said.

According to the MCMC, he said, the activist did not lodge a report with the commission about this particular case of cyberbullying.

However, Fahmi said he is aware that she had lodged a report with the police.

Digital Minister Gobind Singh Deo said reports involving online attacks and abuse have increased of late.

“The government views these complaints very seriously.

“Steps are being taken to prevent them and to duly deal with such incidents when they occur,’’ added Gobind.

He added that the relevant ministers such as himself, Fahmi, Home Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail, and Law and Institutional Reform minister Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said are putting in place measures as well as legislation to deal with online harm.

“I have spoken to the Prime Minister (Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim) about this.

“We will discuss it further with the Cabinet next week.

“Rest assured, urgent steps are being taken to deal with the problem,’’ said Gobind.

According to Gobind, the relevant bodies and authorities are focused on building a structure to protect people from online abuse or harm, with proper registration of social media accounts being one of the considerations taken into account.

He advised those being bullied on social media to not suffer in silence and to come forward and lodge the necessary complaints with the authorities.

When contacted, Sentul OCPD Asst Comm Ahmad Sukarno Mohd Zahari confirmed a police report was lodged by the victim related to threats she had received on social media.

“It is unfortunate that she has passed away.

“But without her statement, we are unable to take the matter further,“ he said.

ACP Ahmad Sukarno said the woman had also lodged similar police reports in the past.

He said there were also reports lodged against her and she was investigated for alleged abuse of network facilities under Section 233 of the MCMC Act recently.

ACP Ahmad Sukarno said investigations on the death of the woman is being probed by Gombak police.

Those suffering from mental health issues or contemplating suicide can reach out to the Mental Health Psychosocial Support Service (03-2935 9935 or 014-322 3392); Talian Kasih (15999 or 019-261 5999 on WhatsApp); Jakim’s Family, Social and Community care centre (011-1959 8214 on WhatsApp); and Befrienders Kuala Lumpur (03-7627 2929, visit www.befrienders.org.my/centre-in-malaysia for a full list of numbers and operating hours, or email sam@befrienders.org.my.

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