As Kedah bans game for Muslims, MCMC releases 'Pokemon Go' tips

The MCMC's guidelines were aimed at helping Malaysian users keep safe and protect their personal information while catching the virtual monsters. — Picture by Choo Choy May
The MCMC's guidelines were aimed at helping Malaysian users keep safe and protect their personal information while catching the virtual monsters. — Picture by Choo Choy May

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 10 ― The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission today released its guidelines for Malaysians playing Pokemon Go, just after Kedah religious authorities declared the game “haram”.

Despite concerns expressed about the Internet hit being a potential security threat, the MCMC's guidelines were aimed at helping Malaysian users keep safe and protect their personal information while catching the virtual monsters.

Its list of 10 guidelines consisted of common-sense advice such as not playing the augmented reality game while operating motor vehicles, being wary of potential scams in the form of apps promising an advantage in the game, and being careful when making in-app purchases to avoid mixing up currencies.

Other nuggets of wisdom include being alert when meeting strangers in the course of Pokemon hunting, not trespassing into restricted areas, and to be respectful when hunting in or around houses of worship.

More practical advice included telling gamers to bring additional batteries or powerbanks to fuel their Pokemon hunts as well as how to report bugs with Pokemon Gyms and Pokestops to the developer.

“In this matter, the MCMC wishes to emphasise that the choice of whether to play Pokemon Go rests in the hands of the individual players,” it said in a statement accompanying the guidelines.

“Nevertheless, all players should always be aware of their surrounding situations.”

Earlier tonight, national news agency Bernama reported that the Kedah fatwa committee has declared the game as “haram” or forbidden to Muslims.

The Pokemon Go phenomenon is based on a 1990s game but updated with the latest technology that uses augmented reality to superimpose virtual creatures onto real world locations, and allows players to view and capture them through their smartphones.

Already downloaded over an estimated 100 million times globally, the sensation had prompted calls for its ban in Malaysia even before its officially release here last weekend.

Critics cited various concerns including possible psychological and social issues stemming from game addiction, religious and safety concerns, as well as worries over potential security breaches.

Chief Secretary to the Government Tan Sri Dr Ali Hamsa previously said there was no issue with civil servants playing the game as long as this did not hurt productivity.

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