‘We want justice for Esha’

Unbearable pain: Susila (left) mourning her sister’s death during the funeral procession. — AZLINA ABDULLAH/The Star

KUALA LUMPUR: Cyberbullies who harass and humiliate social media users should be dragged to court to face the full brunt of the law, says Communications Minister Fahmi Fadzil.

He said enhancing enforcement and making amendments to existing laws to ensure cyberbullies pay dearly for their actions will be discussed in the Cabinet on Friday.

Fahmi, who attended the funeral of Rajeswary Appahu at her home in Gombak here yesterday, said police have commenced investigations into the death of the 30-year-old activist and social media influencer who was found dead on Friday due to alleged cyberbullying.

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“I have spoken to her mother and her family had also lodged a police report,” he said, adding that the family claimed that the pressure of being bullied on the TikTok platform had resulted in Rajeswary’s death.

“I am angry and upset. We will leave it to the police to investigate. Cyberbullying should not become a culture. Sometimes the public including civil servants post comments on social media as they wish without realising it can amount to cyberbullying.

“We, especially the younger generation, should avoid such culture,” he told the media after the funeral.

Fahmi said tracing and identifying cyberbullies was an uphill task as they hide behind social media accounts with dubious profiles.

He said the menace was not only occurring on TikTok but also other social media platforms such as Facebook, X and WhatsApp.

Fahmi had earlier attended the national-level Maal Hijrah 2024/1446H celebration at the Putrajaya International Convention Centre where His Majesty Sultan Ibrahim, King of Malaysia, had also raised his concerns on several issues related to social media.

“I will adhere to the orders of His Majesty to ensure the Internet is safe for all. The social media platform operators are cooperating with us but it is not enough.

“The cyberbullies not only humiliate but also reveal personal details of individuals which clearly is against the law under the Data Protection Act.

“This case has been brought to the attention of the Prime Minister and we will discuss how we can enhance enforcement against the culprits,” he said.

At the funeral, Rajeswary’s elder sister Susila called for stricter action on cyberbullying on social media platforms, alleging her late sister, who was known as Esha in the social media circle, was trolled and insulted on the platform until she emotionally broke down and could no longer bear the mental stress.

“Please help us. We want justice for Esha. My sister was very religious and a very strong person. She has never harmed or hurt anyone but the bullies spoke lies and had slandered her terribly, especially over the past month.

“We can’t believe she had resorted to this. Let my sister’s case be the last and this should never happen to another woman.” she said.

Rajeswary was laid to rest at the Ampang Jaya Hindu cemetery yesterday afternoon.

Wangsa Maju police chief Asst Comm Mohamad Lazim Ismail said no signs of foul play was found in the victim’s death during investigations.

Rajeswary was found dead at her apartment a day after she lodged a police report on Thursday of death and sexual assault threats made by cyberbullies.

She claimed she was trolled and harassed in a live session with threats and vulgarity by an individual on TikTok who also used her photo and made serious threats against her.

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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