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Gov’t looking to ‘tweak’ CMA in wake of teen’s social media-linked death

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The government is scrutinising existing provisions including the Penal Code to find better ways to tackle cyberbullying, Gobind Singh Deo said today.

In the wake of the recent suicide of a cyberbullied teenager in Sarawak, the multimedia and communications minister told reporters today that the government wanted to see whether legal measures they had now were sufficient.

"As I said yesterday, we will look at the existing laws, whether there is the need to make amendments.

"We have provisions under the Penal Code, but whether they are enough and effective, all this is what we are taking into consideration," he said after handing out bubur lambuk (a porridge dish) to Telekom Malaysia staff at an event in Bangsar earlier today.

Gobind was responding to a request by journalists to elaborate on his comment last night in which he mentioned that the government was looking to amend the Communications and Multimedia Act (CMA) 1998. 

It was reported that the 16-year-old from Padawan was found dead last Monday, believed due to a fall from several floors, hours after posting an online poll on social media seeking a choice between life and death.

At least 69 percent respondents had opted for ‘D’ for death, while only 31 percent chose ‘L’ or life.

“I feel we have to be very, very careful when it comes to matters like this. I think it’s a serious matter where social media is being used in a manner which can endanger the lives of certain people.

“Having said that, I think at the same time, we also want to look at how the CMA Act could perhaps be tweaked to deal with problems like this,” the minister said last night, as quoted by the Malay Mail.

At the press conference today, Gobind said a plan to table a new act to specifically addresses cyberbullying was still ongoing with discussions between different ministries and the police now ongoing.

Asked on the suicide and whether his ministry has received any request from the police to track down those who voted in the girl's online poll, the minister said he could not reveal that information for the time being.

"I know that there is a discussion being carried out, but the details I cannot divulge. But we are looking into it because this is something very serious and has gripped the attention of many, and I have received a lot of messages and tweets to look into it.

Padawan police have classified the case as sudden death.

The case prompted Bukit Gelugor lawmaker Ramkarpal Singh (above) to question the role of netizens who participated in the poll in the lead up to the death.

He said the matter should not be treated as an isolated case and called for a thorough investigation.

In a letter, the DAP national legal bureau chief added that abetting a suicide could be considered an offence in Malaysia.

“Although it is still too early to determine what exactly happened, it is possible that the girl was suffering from depression and contemplated suicide as a result,” he had said.

“Would she have heeded the advice of netizens to seek professional help had they done so?

“Did the encouragement of those netizens actually influence her decision to take her own life?” he said.

Meanwhile, the MCMC reportedly stated last night that those who abetted the teenager’s actions in regards to the poll could face up to 20 years in jail and a fine.

According to Free Malaysia Today, the MCMC cited Section 305 of the Penal Code pertaining to those who abet in the suicide of those below 18 years of age, as well as those deemed insane and intoxicated.

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