Gobind: Police must explain lack of action on Internet offences

Communications minister Gobind Singh Deo says MCMC can investigate but has no power to arrest or charge.

PETALING JAYA: The police have been urged to take swift action on complaints of improper online behaviour or postings, and also to give explanations why sometimes no action is taken.

“I think the people need to know this, why there is no action taken,” said Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo today. He said that if laws had been created “we must be ready to use them” to make them effective.

The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (which comes under the purview of his ministry) had done its best to help authorities to investigate into wrongdoing online but “the power to arrest, power to make decisions, charge and so on, these are beyond my ministry,” Gobind said, according to Bernama.

“If there were constraints or inaction by the police and the Attorney-General’s Office, everyone should be informed of what was actually happening so that they would not assume that the MCMC was not doing anything.

“Whereas we have taken action, and even I am left waiting as to why it’s taking so long to act and what is the problem,” he said.

“We have to respond fast. Often, if not every time, we respond swiftly. But after that we see that no action is taken. So, I have informed the police. It is important for you to explain to the people.

“A situation should not arise where no action is taken even if there has been an improper upload. To me, if we want to create laws, they must be effective. If there are laws, we must be ready to use them.”

Gobind’s remarks were made to reporters in conjunction with the first anniversary of the new government administration under Pakatan Harapan taking office in May.

Gobind was asked about the roles of agencies under his ministry, MCMC in facing various challenges in the past year in relation to social media and wrongdoings of netizens, such as insults to Prophet Muhammad and the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

Asked how the ministry balanced calls to take action against alleged insults and concerns over freedom of speech or press, Gobind said that although the Pakatan Harapan-led government was committed to press freedom, there were limits which were set up quite clearly in law.

“Of late, we see a great rise in cases where Internet is used for purposes which result in, if I may put it bluntly, abuse. We have insults, we have people who incite feelings of hatred, people who threaten others, people who openly abuse the royal institution. This is something we have to deal with.

“And where one commits an offence, then of course the law will take its course. We have seen how the abuse of social media can lead to huge consequences around the world. Not just in Malaysia. Other countries face similar challenges.

“Singapore, the UK (United Kingdom) and Australia are calling for more regulations and, of course, emphasising the need for there to be very, very careful consideration on how much freedom we want to give or we will support when it comes to media,” he added.