Tabs on posts about monarchy

(The Star) –  Social media information and content on the country’s monarchy will be monitored ahead of the election and proclamation of the new Yang di-Pertuan Agong, said Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo (pic).

But the move has seen opposition from human rights group Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram), who said authorities should not criminalise expressions online.

Bernama quoted Gobind as saying that the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) would particularly monitor the comments and criticisms on social media against the institution of the monarchy.

“We have a monitoring system at the MCMC. When a report is made, an investigation will be carried out. The investigation papers will be forwarded to the Attorney General’s Chambers and a decision will be made on the matter.

Gobind was asked about the comments made about the institution of the monarchy on social media, especially ahead of the election of the next Yang di-Pertuan Agong and Deputy Yang di-Pertuan Agong on Jan 24, and the swearing-in on Jan 31.

He said the ministry was concerned about the growing circulation of fake or defamatory news on social media that could incite hatred and spark anxiety among the people.

Bukit Aman Crime Prevention and Community Safety Department director Comm Datuk Seri Rosli Ab Rahman previously advised Malaysians to be careful about what they post on the Internet.

He said if people were more careful about their postings, resources could be better spent on fighting crime and prevention efforts.

“Inappropriate comments, especially lewd and hurtful comments, should not be posted,” he said.

Malaysians, said Comm Rosli, should refrain from making any statement that could be viewed as provocative.

In Petaling Jaya, Suaram executive director Sevan Doraisamy said the ministry should not be criminalising expressions online.

“Regardless of how unsavoury or offensive some comments may be, silencing them with criminal actions or threat of state sanction is not the solution to the problem.

“If the government wants to intervene in the social media sphere in any way, the government should be looking at advisories and literacy programme to educate the masses on user etiquette, and facilitate the development and implementation of community guidelines that provide a ‘soft’ control,” he said yesterday.