KUALA LUMPUR, July 23 ― A Malaysian journalist called today for a referendum to prevent Pokemon Go from launching here, pointing to traffic accidents and robberies associated with the augmented reality game.
Chok Suat Ling, an associate editor with local daily New Straits Times (NST) that described her as an “award-winning columnist”, wrote in an opinion piece that the risks of the hit smartphone game by Niantic, which is expected to arrive here next week, outweighed the benefits and could bring about “tragic real-life consequences”.
“There is a sense of foreboding in the air, a feeling that something wicked and evil is about to engulf the world, and swallow Malaysia whole in its wake.
“It has brought about turmoil in several countries, with real threats of severe security breaches and the trespass of sacred and restricted sites. There is even concern that the location of secret military bases would be revealed, and lives lost,” Chok wrote in the article titled “Say ‘no’ to Pokemon Go“.
The Pokemon Go global phenomenon is based on the 1990s game franchise by Nintendo, but updated with the latest technology that superimposes virtual creatures onto real world locations, and allows players to view and capture them through their smartphones.
Pokemon Go was launched in Japan yesterday and is now available in more than 30 countries, according to UK’s BBC News.
Chok pointed out that Bosnia has warned people not to wander into areas with unexploded mines, like what some Pokemon Go players had done, and cited cyber security experts who claimed that the game could be used for espionage.
“Others have lost their way in underground cave networks and walked off cliffs. It won’t be long before they do the same at bridges and train platforms.
“Private properties, stores, restaurants and even police stations have received an influx of unwanted visitors searching for imaginary beasts,” she added.
Chok described Pokemon Go as a “subversive” game and urged Malaysian citizens to “set their differences aside, and either push for a referendum, or sign a declaration to make Pokemon Go a no-go in Malaysia”.
Chok’s warning about Pokemon Go came after some local preachers claimed the game violates Islamic teachings.
Perak Mufti Tan Sri Harussani Zakaria previously urged Putrajaya to ban Pokemon Go, saying it should not be allowed if it had gambling elements.