KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 29 — A 34-year-old man was arrested in Bangi, Selangor yesterday over a Facebook post on the Wuhan coronavirus (2019-nCoV) that authorities alleged to contain false information.
According to the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), the man was arrested at his home. Investigators also seized a mobile phone and sim card that were believed to have been used for the offending post.
The man is under investigation for improper use of network facilities under Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act, which is punishable by imprisonment of no more than a year and a fine of up to RM50,000 upon conviction.
“The stern action is among efforts by the MCMC and Royal Malaysia Police to control the spread of false news on the novel coronavirus by irresponsible individuals, which could jeopardise national stability and public peace,” the commission said.
It added that law enforcement authorities were pursuing three other people over similar offences about the coronavirus.
Earlier this week, both agencies warned that they would strictly enforce existing laws against those sharing fake news, particularly on the local 2019-nCoV situation.
While the spread of the virus has been limited in Malaysia, health authorities have been forced to repeatedly debunk false news and misinformation on social media, in an attempt to prevent public panic.
Earlier today, authorities confirmed three new 2019-nCoV infections in Malaysia, bringing the number of cases to seven overall.