MAY 18 — It's one thing on social media to be opinionated but it seems Malaysians need reminding that they are not judges, juries nor are they executioners. 

The recent high profile abuse case where the public was attacking not just the accused perpetrator but the person's lawyers, with even a mufti chiming in saying Muslim lawyers shouldn't be defending evildoers, showed a lack of understanding of how the justice system works.

While it's true that over the years there have been questions about the judiciary, there is no justification for the public to think that it can skip due process entirely.

It's also troubling to think about how easy it is to manufacture hatred and to amplify untruths. 

Facebook has been rightly vilified for how it was used to spread lies about US elections, the Rohingya and even now the company continues to allow itself to be a platform for the likes of white supremacists and anti-vaxxers.

It's not even just Facebook. Thanks to the overwhelming publicity given to the Johnny Depp libel suit against Amber Heard, fake videos have been popping up on YouTube with false narratives and made up quotes.

I often tell people to vary their news sources but now the problem lies in whether they're even choosing the right ones in the first place.

A picture illustration shows a Facebook logo reflected in a person’s eye.  — Reuters pic
A picture illustration shows a Facebook logo reflected in a person’s eye. — Reuters pic

Back to Malaysians not understanding how courts work — it's fine if you have an opinion on whatever is going on.

However, it is not up to the public to be making statements saying that judges should rule a certain way — not unless they are the lawyers arguing the case.

It is troubling that Malaysians are going online and already pronouncing guilt or innocence even as a trial is still ongoing. 

The way hashtags were used to drum up public anger over an abuse case was also crass. Must we viralise everything to get them noticed?

What is most apparent in all the self-righteous online wannabe vigilantes is this — the allowance for being wrong.

Until all the facts and evidence are presented and argued in a court, the sole decision for both verdict and punishment should be left up to the judge and until then, perhaps the public should consider that not all opinions are good opinions.

* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.