FB user arrested for allegedly spreading fake coronavirus news.
- Not government policy to stop anyone visiting mosques and museums
- Putra Mosque reopens to non-Muslim visitors
- Five people probed for spreading fake news on coronavirus on social media
- Fake news post blames Guan Eng
- Three more new infections confirmed, total positive cases in Malaysia now seven
- Death toll in China risen to 132
- Countries airlifting citizens from Wuhan
Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad said the spread of fake news and hate speeches that cause racial tensions will not be tolerated.
He said this as authorities moved to take action against those accused of spreading fake news on the spread of the novel coronavirus in the country.
“The government will take action on those who purposely publish fake news to frighten Malaysians, and even incite racial hatred,” Mahathir said at a press conference in Putrajaya today.
He also warned the press against partaking in such activities.
“We believe in press freedom, but this doesn’t mean the press should agitate people or cause people to be antagonistic towards one another.
“Press freedom is maintained in this country, but spreading fake news, telling lies in order to cause problems will not be tolerated and we will take action,” he said.
The prime minister was responding to a viral message that certain mosques and museums have closed their doors to non-Muslims tourists.
“This is not a government policy, we never stopped anyone from visiting,” he said.
“This was carried out by some irresponsible parties. The government will take action against those who spread fake news and who want to incite hate among the races,” he said in Putrajaya today.
Yesterday, it was reported that Putrajaya’s Putra Mosque would restrict the entry of non-Muslim visitors beyond its main gate.
Beginning Sunday, the mosque’s management had informed that it will deny entry to non-Muslim visitors, following concerns over the new coronavirus outbreak.
A mosque spokesperson said the entry restriction will be in effect until a yet to be determined date, and for now, only Muslim visitors will be allowed in for prayers.
In the latest development, Putra Mosque has reopened its doors to non-Muslim visitors today.
A mosque spokesman said the grand imam had ordered the mosque to allow tourists to enter.
“We were worried about close contact between people and also because our staff were not ready with preventive measures.
“So, we made the decision to close the mosque temporarily,” the spokesman was quoted as saying.
The mosque has now equipped its staff and security personnel with masks and hand sanitiser, he added.
According to the spokesman, the lunar new year holiday has so far recorded more than 2,000 visitors to the mosque in one day, compared to the 1,000 normally received on an ordinary day.
Earlier today, Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) announced that they had arrested one person and are tracking down four others with regards to fake news on the coronavirus.
A statement issued by MCMC stated the suspect, aged 34, was arrested at his home in Bangi, Selangor, at 4pm yesterday for a posting that was uploaded on a Facebook page on January 26.
Investigators also seized a mobile phone and sim card that were believed to have been used for the offending post.
The man is being investigated under Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act, which provides for a year in jail and a maximum fine of RM50,000, or both.
The offender is also liable to a further fine of RM1,000 for every day or part of a day during which the offence is continued after conviction.
“The stern action is among efforts by the MCMC and Royal Malaysia Police to control the spread of false news on the novel coronavirus by irresponsible individuals, which could jeopardise national stability and public peace,” the commission said.
Meanwhile, Bukit Aman Criminal Investigation Department (CID) director Huzir Mohamed (below) also issued a statement claiming they have opened five investigation papers against netizens for allegedly spreading fake information on the coronavirus via social media.
Four individuals are being probed under Section 505 (B) of the Penal Code for allegedly making statements with apparent “intent to cause fear or alarm to the public”. They could face up to two years’ imprisonment.
The fifth person is being probed under Section 203 (A) of the Penal Code over disclosure of information, which carries a maximum punishment of two years’ imprisonment and RM1 million fine.
All five of them are also being probed under Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act.
One of them insinuated that DAP leader Lim Guan Eng is in the way of restrictions against Chinese nationals entering Malaysia.
Huzir said police are investigating the Facebook user known as “Ibu Yati” who claimed that 1,000 people from China had entered Penang, and who asked if a curfew would only be imposed if Lim were infected.
Malaysiakini reported that the former journalist said she was being probed for mentioning Lim Guan Eng.
“(I) was summoned because I touched LGE (Lim Guan Eng)…I was merely posing a question because it is the concern of many.
“This is a health issue, not politics. For me, it was a normal posting,” she added. “My view is a professional (view that) represents the concern of many.”
“I usually focus on issues related to the sovereignty of the country. Previously, I had lodged a police report on cyber-bullying, but the police acted slowly on it. But this time, I am sure I have become the victim of political pressure.”
The investigation on Facebook user Kong Tuck Wah is for leaking a police report related to coronavirus online, while another investigation is on a claim posted in a WhatsApp group that an inmate of Sandakan Prison had died from coronavirus in Malaysia.
Police are also investigating a Facebook post by “Roti Sardeen” who claimed a Chinese tourist from the Customs, Immigration, and Quarantine (CIQ) complex in klia2 had died on a bus.
In addition, they are probing a Facebook group called “Gabungan Anak Terengganu (Original)” over a post claiming that five patients infected with coronavirus were being treated at the Sultanah Nur Zahirah Hospital in Kuala Terengganu.
Authorities have previously debunked these rumours and more.
The number of positive cases of 2019-nCoV in Malaysia rose to seven today, after three more new infections were confirmed.
All seven patients are China nationals.
Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the three new cases were a four-year-old being treated in Hospital Sultanah Maliha, Langkawi; a 52-year-old man in Hospital Sultanah Aminah, Johor Bahru; and a woman who is a relative of the patient in Singapore’s case.
He said the woman, who tested negative at first, had decided to stay in Malaysia to care for her two children in Hospital Sungai Buloh after both of them were confirmed to have contracted the virus.
He added that the number of patients under investigation (PUI) had also increased to 78, comprising 39 Malaysians, 36 China nationals, and one patient each from Jordan, Brazil and Thailand.
From the total number of PUI cases, three have been confirmed to be carrying the virus, 74 tested negative and one more is pending the lab results.
Hisham said the remaining four confirmed coronavirus patients that were reported earlier were still being treated in isolation wards in Hospital Sungai Buloh and they were in stable condition.
This morning, China reported that its death toll from 2019-nCoV has risen to 132 while confirmed infections shot up to 5,974.
From France to Japan, governments were organising evacuations, while Hong Kong planned to suspend rail and ferry links with the mainland.
The US Embassy in Beijing said a chartered plane would pick up its consular staff on Wednesday.
The European Commission said it would help fund two aircraft to fly EU citizens home, with 250 French nationals leaving on the first flight.