Minister: Legal practitioners, public want cyberbullying made a criminal offence

Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah speaks during a press conference at the Putra World Trade Centre in Kuala Lumpur August 26, 2020. — Picture by Choo Choy May
Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah speaks during a press conference at the Putra World Trade Centre in Kuala Lumpur August 26, 2020. — Picture by Choo Choy May

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PUTRAJAYA, Dec 8 — A questionnaire related to cyberbullying conducted by Multimedia University (MMU) since last July found that 89 per cent of legal practitioners want cyberbullying categorised as a criminal offence, Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah said. 

Based on the survey involving 409 respondents, 74 per cent of legal practitioners stated that there was a need to establish a special court related to cyberbullying.

He further said that 71.6 per cent of legal practitioners, and 89.3 per cent of the public, wanted specific legislation for cyberbullying, or a cyberbullying act, to be introduced. 

“These findings are very important because we want to know what the community and legal practitioners feel about cyberbullying cyberbullying is a serious matter,” he told newsmen after chairing a coordination meeting on the proposed Anti-Cyberbullying Act at his ministry here today.

On July 3, Saifuddin said the Ministry of Communications and Multimedia (KKMM) had appointed MMU to conduct research related to cyber-bullying laws due to the recent increase in cyberbullying cases in Malaysia, some of which even resulted in suicide cases. 

Saifuddin said MMU was asked to provide a detailed report on the research findings, which is expected to be completed by Jan 31. 

“The current (survey) figures are raw data. We hope the full and complete report can be completed and when it is done, we will look at whether to introduce a policy or opt for amendments to the law,” he said.

He said the ministry was in no hurry to implement new legislation on cyberbullying as the issue needs to be looked into very carefully.

“If we want to make cyberbullying a crime, we have to look at existing legislation there may already be existing provisions under the Penal Code.

“We also need to study if existing laws are sufficient (to address the issue) and if it is not, we will then decide if a specific act is needed to address cyberbullying,” he said. — Bernama

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