The government views seriously abuse of social media in Malaysia as this can endanger the security of the nation and its people, said Communications and Multimedia Minister Salleh Said Keruak.
He said the ministry would be monitoring and taking action against individuals and groups who abuse the internet to slander, defame, insult and instigate others with the intention to cause hatred and disrespect to the various institutions of government and its leadership.
“The Sedition Act 1948, laws under the Malaysian Penal Code, and the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 will be fully utilised to ensure that those who transgress the boundaries of these laws will face the full consequences of their acts," he said in a statement today.
Salleh said the ministry fully respects the rights of Malaysians to free and fair access to the internet and its applications, but nevertheless was duty-bound to uphold the federal constitution, which provides for the security and safety of all Malaysians.
"The ministry prioritises the continuation of peace and harmony that this country has enjoyed since its independence," said Salleh, who is also the chairperson of the special committee to combat abuse of social media.
Salleh said the ministry was mindful of the myriad of ways in which the internet was and continues to be abused by a minority of Malaysians.
“The abuse is causing widespread consternation among Malaysians of all walks of life.
“Extremist and radical views both from the left and right wings within certain segments of society, if left unchecked, can grow and threaten the lives of the majority of Malaysians who are peace-loving," he said.
He said the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) had received 323 complaints concerning the abuse of the internet, 67.8 percent of which had been with regard to pornographic content and slanderous statements, including those deemed seditious in nature.
Seven cases were under investigation for offences under the Communications and Multimedia Act, whereas 149 websites had been blocked for breaking laws, he said.
Salleh said those who were prosecuted under the laws will face charges with sentences ranging from a fine of RM50,000 to and/or term of incarceration in jail up to one year.
“To facilitate investigations, the authorities are empowered to confiscate any equipment used by the suspects in violating these laws," he said.
Last year, a total of 12 cases were brought to court and prosecuted under the Communications and Multimedia Act with regard to offensive content and abuse of social media where court sentences meted out totalled RM129,000 and prison sentences between one and 30 months, he said.
Therefore, he said, the public must continue to be vigilant and cooperate with the authorities, namely MCMC and the police, to report content, which are detrimental to the country and are in clear violation of the country’s laws.
“It is the responsibility of every citizen to ensure the internet in Malaysia remains free from abuse for the benefit of all Malaysians, that the internet remains a medium for Malaysians to conduct business, develop socially and entertain themselves without having to worry about crime," he said.