Malaysia’s Senior Minister for Security Ismail Sabri Yaakob has fallen victim to fake news claiming that he does not welcome Singaporeans to the country.
“The truth is, our borders are still closed to everyone, including Singaporeans, so such news is malicious,” he said at his daily briefing on Malaysia’s coronavirus situation yesterday. “This act can sour the relationship between Malaysia and our neighbour Singapore.”
Sabri also noted that his voice had been doctored in the offending tweet.
“I have lodged a report with the police and the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC),” he said.
Malaysia has closed its borders to foreigners since March 18, when it implemented a partial shutdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Although, it has since eased movement restrictions within the country, Malaysians are still not permitted to travel abroad.
Before the coronavirus curbs, hundreds of thousands travelled daily via land crossings between Malaysia’s southern Johor state and Singapore to work, deliver goods or attend school.
Singapore and Malaysia are in talks to ease travel restrictions between the two countries, while keeping the necessary protocols and safety measures in place in view of the coronavirus pandemic.
Sabri, who is also the Defence Minister, said that as of yesterday, some 266 investigation papers have been opened by the police and the MCMC on fake news relating to Covid-19.
From that total, 179 are under investigation. Meanwhile, 30 people have been charged in court, 11 given warning notices and 18 have pleaded guilty.
The minister said that in the past two weeks, there have not been any new investigation papers, which showed that people were more aware about the dangers of sharing fake news.
“However, the police and MCMC will continue to monitor the spread of fake news. People are reminded to be careful before sharing unverified news,” he said.
Malaysia reported 43 new coronavirus cases yesterday, raising the cumulative total to 8,445 infections. Total recoveries stood at 7,311, or over 85 per cent of the total number of cases.
The Malaysian Ministry of Health reported one new death, taking total fatalities from the outbreak in the country to 120.