KUALA LUMPUR – Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, Monday reminded that the internet should not become a medium for stoking racial and religious tension in a plural society like in Malaysia.
Expressing his disappointment, he said at times, the internet has been used here (in Malaysia) to spread half-truths and even outright lies.
“For example, during the last general election, a host of unsubstantiated allegations were propagated online. It was said that the government was orchestrating blackouts at polling stations to change the ballot boxes and flying in 40,000 people across the nation to vote.
“These claims were all proven to be baseless lies, but not before they had been swallowed hook, line and sinker by many, and are doing real damage to our repututation,” he said.
Najib said this while delivering his keynote address at the UMNO International Forum themed A Hyperconnected World: Challenges In Nation Building, held in conjunction with the 2014 UMNO General Assembly at the Putra World Trade Centre in Kuala Lumpur.
As such internet stories can go viral and take on a life on their own, prime minister reminded that people should be responsible and think about the content they share in the heat of the moment.
“The public needs to be discerning and understand that allegations on the internet should not be accepted as the absolute truth. The claims need to be questioned and evidence must be assessed.
“Education could play a role but it is very difficult. There is no perfect solution to this,” he said.
Furthermore, he added that legitimate criticism should be encouraged, and that it was a part of healthy democratic debate although the content may at times cross the line, intrude personal privacy, break domestic laws or invoke physical harm.
On encouraging civil and responsible online debate, Najib raised a big question on how to ensure and go about it, hoping that some sub topics in the forum would discuss and provide possible ideas for the government to consider implementing. – Bernama