First Case of Its Kind: Teacher Charged for Sending False WhatsApp Message

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A teacher with the Community Development Department (Kemas) in Semporna, Sabah became the first individual in the country to be charged in court for allegedly sending false communication through a WhatsApp group in 2014.

Rafeah Buang @ Othman, however, pleaded not guilty in front of Justice Awang Kerisnada Awang Mahmud at the Tawau sessions court today.

Nasrawati Syarifuddin

The 36-year-old staff member of the ICT (Information and Communication Technology) unit of the Semporna Kemas office is accused of sending false information to the social media group ‘Karpet KEMAS 189 Semporna’ with intent to cause emotional hurt to others.

She allegedly committed the offence at 11.45am on Dec 11, 2014. The message was read at 1pm at the Semporna Hospital on the same day.

According to a Bernama report, the message asked people to watch out for a black Proton car bearing the plate number SAA6086T which was believed to be the car of a rapist and for safety purpose, to spread it to family members and friends.

The charge, under Section 233 (1) (a) of the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Act 1998, provides for a fine of up to RM50,000, or imprisonment for up to a year, or both, and a further fine of RM1,000 for each day the offence continues after the conviction.

The prosecution was handled by deputy prosecutor from the Malaysian Communication and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) Mohd Sophian Zakaria, while the accused was not represented.

Sophian told the press later that the case was the first of its kind in Malaysia involving a group WhatsApp application service.

The court allowed bail of RM2,500 in one surety and fixed Jan 31, 2018, for case management and appointment of counsel by the accused.

Related report: Apr 28, Punishing WhatsApp Group Admin