Making fun of #1MDB could land you in jail, Putrajaya warns

Popular movie titles lampooned under #1MDBMovies included 'The Wolf of Wall Street Journal'. — Facebook screencap
Popular movie titles lampooned under #1MDBMovies included 'The Wolf of Wall Street Journal'. — Facebook screencap

KUALA LUMPUR, July 9 — The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) today cautioned Malaysians against mocking the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) controversy after the #1MDBMovies hashtag trended on Twitter.

The government agency said that sharing false news or altered images related to the investigation on the state-owned fund on social media or on mobile messaging app WhatsApp could be a violation of Section 211 or Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998.

Section 211 and 233 state that it is an offence for people to provide electronic content that is indecent, obscene, false, menacing or offensive with the intent to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass any person, punishable by a fine of not more than RM50,000 or imprisonment of not more than one year.

“The public is advised to stop sharing images that have been altered, false news or any speculation on the investigation on 1MDB through social media, including the WhatsApp application,” MCMC said in a statement on its Facebook page.

The #1MDBMovies hashtag recently trended on Twitter, where users changed movie titles to make fun of 1MDB that is facing a huge debt burden of RM42 billion and is under investigation by the authorities, after the Wall Street Journal reported that US$700 million (RM2.6 billion) from the state-owned fund ended up in Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s personal bank accounts just two months before the 13th general election.

Popular movie titles lampooned under #1MDBMovies included “Honey I Shrunk The Ringgit” (Honey, I Shrunk The Kids), “The Wolf of Wall Street Journal” (The Wolf of Wall Street), “Forty-two Billion Shades Of Debt” (Fifty Shades of Grey) and “I Know What You Did Last Election” (I Know What You Did Last Summer).  

Some movie posters were also altered under #1MDBMovies, such as Martin Scorsese’s “The Wolf of Wall Street” that shows Najib instead of Jordan Belfort and the altered title, “The Wolf of Wall Street Journal”, together with an 18-rating saying: “Contains High Corruption”.

Another movie poster of “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring” features Najib instead of Frodo Baggins looking at the One Ring in his hand and the altered title, “The Lord of the Ringgits: The Fellowship of 1MDB”, together with a sentence: “The disappearance of RM42b”.

Communication and Multimedia Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek denied last August that Putrajaya was considering banning access to Facebook, saying his ministry was simply polling public sentiment on such action, with the news report recently coming up again on social media.