PONTIAN: Fake news has reared its ugly head in the Tanjung Piai by-election.
Politicians from all sides of the political divide have warned voters not to be swayed by fake news.
There are accusations that certain parties or individuals were spreading fake news to discredit their opponents.
So far, the police have received 24 police reports on issues connected with the by-election set for this Saturday.
Johor police chief Comm Datuk Mohd Kamarudin Md Din said only three investigations papers have been opened.
He said no arrest have been made and the campaign is going on without incident.
“So far there has been no report of riots and fighting between supporters of the contesting parties even though the campaign has started to get more aggressive.
“I hope that all parties involved would seek a police permit especially when they are moving around in vehicles so that we can get our personnel to ensure smooth flow of traffic, ” he said.
Comm Kamarudin said one of the reports involved alleged seditious statements made by Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Datuk Salahuddin Ayub, who is being investigated under Section 4A(1) of the Election Offences Act 1954.
Another case involved the Barisan Nasional candidate that has been handed over to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, he said.
“There was one report on statements made by Umno president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi over his remarks on the recent acquittal of a woman of a reckless driving charge that caused the death of eight teenage cyclists in Johor Baru in 2017, ” he told reporters after attending the monthly police assembly at the Johor police contingent headquarters yesterday.
It is a six-cornered fight in Tanjung Piai between Pakatan’s Karmaine Sardini, Barisan’s Datuk Seri Dr Wee Jeck Seng, Gerakan’s Wendy Subramaniam, Pan Malaysian Islamic Front’s (Berjasa) Badhrulhisham Abdul Aziz and two independent candidates – Faridah Aryani Abdul Ghaffar and Ang Chuan Lock.
Wee of MCA has called upon voters in Tanjung Piai not to believe in fake news being put up on social media.
“The public should verify the news first. I too have been a victim of several fake news but luckily I have my own media team that was able to counter it, ” he said.
Karmaine of Bersatu said that he did not allow fake news to affect him mentally or emotionally.
“I do not really monitor the fake news that is being spread about me but I am aware that there are a few.
“Sometimes my friends or party members will show me these fake news but I will not take it too seriously as I know that the public is able to make a rational judgment, ” he said.
The Bill to repeal the Anti-Fake News Act was passed by the Dewan Rakyat for a second time on Oct 9, and the country is looking at setting up a bipartisan parliamentary panel to study ways of dealing with fake news using current laws or alternative methods following the repeal of the Act.
This includes possibly authorising the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission to remove fake or offensive, be it racial or religious, posts from social media, Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh was quoted saying.