Sarawak police initiate investigations against spreading of fake news on coronavirus

Sarawak deputy police chief Commissioner Datuk Dev Kumar said they have detected a number of fake news on coronavirus cases allegedly happening in Sarawak being posted on social media. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri
Sarawak deputy police chief Commissioner Datuk Dev Kumar said they have detected a number of fake news on coronavirus cases allegedly happening in Sarawak being posted on social media. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

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KUCHING, Jan 29 — Sarawak police have opened an investigation paper against a social media account holder for allegedly posting fake news that a patient, claimed to have contracted the Wuhan coronavirus (2019-nCoV), has been admitted to a private hospital here.

“We have received a report lodged by the management of the private hospital yesterday and have initiated an investigation,” Sarawak deputy police chief Commissioner Datuk Dev Kumar told a press conference after attending a state disaster management committee meeting here.

He said police are investigating the report under Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Commission Act 1998, to be read together with Section 505 of the Penal Code.

Section 233 provides a maximum fine of RM50,000, or imprisonment for up to a year, or both, and shall also be liable to a further fine of RM1,000 for every day during which the offence is continued after conviction.

He said Section 505 provides an imprisonment of up to two years or a fine or both upon conviction.

Dev Kumar said police have detected a number of fake news on coronavirus cases allegedly happening in Sarawak being posted on social media.

Meanwhile, Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah, who presided over the press conference, said people should verify the authenticity of the news from the state disaster committee before disseminating any news on the coronavirus on social media.

He advised netizens not to spread unverified news on social media, saying that any verified information on coronavirus will be officially released by the disaster management committee, apart from the health ministry.

“It is very irresponsible to spread fake news because it can cause confusion and create alarm among the public,” he said, warning that the police will take action against anyone spreading false news.

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