KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 27 — Facebook users today ticked off a senior civil servant for allegedly linking this weekend’s Bersih 4 rally to an old photo of a yellow-shirted man burning a Malaysian flag, accusing him of spreading lies and provocation by using the unrelated incident in Manila.
Information Department director-general Datuk Ibrahim Abdul Rahman was taken to task by Facebook users over the photo posted by an account on the social media site under his name.
Yesterday, the Facebook account posted the photo along with the words “Bersih is dirty. Bulan kebangsaan sepatutnya dirayakan bagi mengukuhkan jati diri rakyat. Sebaliknya mereka bercita cita meruntuhkan negara. Stop them”.
[Translation: National month should be celebrated to strengthen the people’s identity. Instead they aspire to pull down the country. Stop them]
While this post initially led to Facebook users calling for action to be taken against the individual seen burning the flag, several of them later pointed out that the incident did not involve a Malaysian or Bersih rally-goer and did not even happen in Malaysia.
“This is not a Malaysian but a Philipino [sic] protesting against their president for giving in to Malaysia,” a user identified as Yeemun Onn said, asking the government officer to compare the man’s shirt against the actual official shirts for the Bersih 3.0 and Bersih 4 rallies — which are also in yellow.
The Facebook users posted a screen capture of a March 6, 2013 news report by the Philippines’ news portal INQUIRER.Net, where a retired Filipino police officer had set fire to a Malaysian flag to protest the Aquino administration’s condemnation of the Sulu gunmen who intruded Sabah.
Today, Facebook user, Rayyan Haries, criticised the post on Ibrahim’s account: “How can a director general at the ministry of communication transmit false photo to incite hate sentiment. you sir, don’t deserve our taxpayer money for being such ignorant (sic). Please resign, such a disgrace.”
Another user, Zulhafidz Yahaya, said Ibrahim should have practice the best communication practices and check his source before making his comment.
Malay Mail Online has yet to receive a response from Ibrahim. His aide did not confirm if the Facebook account belonged to him or if he had posted the photo.
The Facebook account, however, states that the user is a director-general at both the Ministry of Communication and Multimedia and its predecessor Ministry of Information, Communication and Culture.
At the time of writing, the Facebook post has been shared 472 times and has garnered 148 “likes”.
Amid the brickbats, some Facebook users stepped forward to defend Ibrahim, suggesting that the photo was merely a “decorative photo”.
“itu hanyalah sekadar gambar hiasan...knpa ada yang terasa dan kata ini hate speech dan terus tuduh beliau as a penyebar fitnah? jangan perbesarkan benda yang remeh temeh...mohon pertimbangan,” Facebook user Mohammad Abd Rahman wrote.
[Translation: That is only a decorative photo...why are there those who feel it and say this is hate speech and accuse him as spreading slander? Don’t make much of minor issue...please consider]
The Bersih 4 rally for institutional reforms is set to run from August 29 to August 30, with five demands to be raised in the peaceful gathering: clean elections; clean government; right to dissent; strengthening parliamentary democracy and saving the economy.