The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) has warned that those found to be republishing content from the whistleblower site Sarawak Report would be subject to the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 (CMA).
It said that reports earlier today quoting its enforcement and surveillance division chief Zulkarnain Mohd Yasin saying there is no evidence that the website had carried false reports are ‘inaccurate’.
"The statement by (Zulkarnain) that is published in several news portals has to be seen from the context that it is an ongoing investigation being conducted by the police and the Special Task Force, and not as confirmation that there is no evidence that Sarawak Report ’s reports are false.
"In relation to this, the headlines and articles of several online news portals on the issue are inaccurate ( kurang tepat ).
"Any party found to be republishing content from Sarawak Report , which has been blocked, will also be subject to the CMA," it said in a statement tonight.
Zulkarnain had held a briefing with online media editors in Putrajaya this morning, including Malaysiakini , The Malaysian Insider , Utusan Online , and many others.
Malaysiakini subsequently quoted him saying that Sarawak Report was blocked as a preventive measure while police completed their investigation, after which MCMC would decide whether to lift the ban.
Zulkarnain was also quoted as saying that there is no proof yet that Sarawak Report ’s exposés on 1MBD were false, but indicated that there have been many complaints from the public about the site.
"We could have blocked it much earlier, but we didn’t," he said.
Zulkarnain also highlighted that misinformation on social media is the most common complaint that the commission had received.
'MCMC regrets the headlines'
In its statement tonight, the MCMC said the purpose of the rare briefing is to remind online news editors that false or inaccurate reporting and the spread of such information could threaten national peace and harmony, especially in its economy and security.
It said that MCMC would take action under the CMA if such information is spread without verifying its veracity.
"The MCMC regrets the headlines and articles published in several online news portals that have clearly deviated from its actual context," it added.
The MCMC on Sunday directed local Internet service providers to block access to Sarawak Report .
In a statement that day, it said the website’s contents "could affect the peace and cause national instability, disrupt public order and affect economic stability".,
It added that blocking of the website was also done pursuant to Section 211 and Section 233 of the CMA, which deals with offensive content and improper use of network facilities and services, respectively.