IPOH, Oct 14 — Malaysia has become the butt of jokes in cyberspace after former inspector-general of police (IGP) Tan Sri Musa Hassan shared, believed and defended an article from a satirical website claiming the United States’ Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) had ‘cleared’ terrorist Osama Bin Laden of involvement in 9/11 attacks, says Lim Kit Siang.
The DAP stalwart said that Musa has dug in his heels despite repeated attempts by Twitter users to point out the farcical nature of the article by website Onion.com, which said the CIA had made a posthumous apology to Bin Laden following new evidence which cleared him of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York.
Lim pointed out six reasons why such mistakes by Musa are both embarrassing and disturbing.
“Firstly, it was made by a former IGP. Secondly, it is clear that the former IGP did not understand the meaning of ‘satire’.
“Thirdly, Musa is a lecturer at the Centre of Media and Information Warfare Studies at the Universiti Teknology MARA (UiTM). This now raises questions about the quality of the university after its star-studded lecturer does not know Onion.com is an American satirical digital media website,” he said in a statement.
“Fourthly, the article is only 10-months-old! Fifthly, Malaysia has become the butt of jokes on Twitter.
“Sixthly, Musa’s blooper illustrates how difficult it is going to be for Malaysia to declare war on the upsurge of lies, fake news and hate speech to incite interracial and inter-religious polarisation and conflict in Malaysia, which must be regarded as one of existential threats of Malaysia,” he added.
Lim said the Centre of Media and Information Warfare Studies should be one of the media schools and agencies which should play a leading role to promote national media literacy from kindergarten level to universities, as is happening in Finland and other countries that are concerned about the danger of fake news.
“But how can they play such a role when they are ignorant about the character of Onion.com or The Tapir Times, a Malaysian satirical website,” he questioned.
Lim said that fake news, lies and hate speech is not just a Malaysian problem, but a worldwide phenomenon, which is now recognised as the third existential threat to humanity apart from nuclear warfare and climate change.
“But are Malaysians sufficiently aware of these dangers?
“The answer cannot be positive from the shocking episode of former IGP Musa Hassan and Onion.com,” he said.