GEORGE TOWN, Nov 16 — The Penang government wants the public to stop spreading a fake message of a massive storm about to hit the state as this could affect tourism and investment.
Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said such fake news will create a negative impact on the state especially in the tourism sector and also raise concerns amongst investors.
“We just want to assure tourists and investors that Penang is safe,” he said in a press conference together with state secretary Datuk Seri Farizan Darus here today.
Farizan read out a message that stated the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) had purportedly detected a storm heading to Penang in two days’ time.
The message, which went viral on November 9, further told the public to stay home or move to a safer place to face the upcoming storm.
Farizan then read out an official statement by the Malaysia Meteorological Department on November 9 which denied that Penang will be hit by a storm on November 11.
“The public must not believe such unverified messages that were spread on social media,” he said.
Lim said, although the Malaysian Meteorological Department can’t be trusted to forecast the weather accurately, November 11 has passed without any storms.
“Since it didn’t happen, that’s why we can confidently refer to their statement denying that a storm is heading here and we want the public to stop spreading such fake news,” he said.
He reiterated his stand that the Malaysian Meteorological Department could not be trusted with its forecasts that he claimed was inaccurate most of the time.
“We can understand why despite the department issuing a statement denying that a storm will hit Penang two days after the message went viral, the public was not reassured and distrustful of the department’s message,” he said.
He added that the public now no longer trust the Malaysian Meteorological Department.
“We can understand why people would rather believe what they saw on social media rather than the Malaysian Meteorological Department,” he said.
He said without an accurate forecast and warning system, the state is left almost defenceless as it won’t be able to prepare and safely evacuate people from hotspots in the event of floods.
The state has tasked Penang Green Council with studying and collecting information from the meteorological departments of other countries to come up with a more reliable early warning system.