Stop inciting hatred among races on social media, Sabah cops warn public

Sabah police chief Omar Mammah (second from right) showing the machete and iron pipe seized in the Ranau case.

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah police have warned the public against making hateful comments on social media with the intention of inciting hatred between locals and foreigners over two recent cases in the state.

State police commissioner Omar Mammah said these cases involved an assault-turned-murder case in Petagas near here and a fight between groups of locals and foreigners in Ranau.

He said in the Petagas case on June 10 there was a misunderstanding between two Pakistanis and a local. It had nothing to do with racial issues.

“But because of hate comments on social media, a second incident occurred there, with people retaliating and torching the car of one of the Pakistani suspects.

“We are monitoring comments on Facebook and social media. We will investigate and take action,” he told reporters at the Sabah police headquarters in Kepayan today.

Omar said police were serious about nipping this threat in the bud before it worsened.

“The negative comments online have complicated matters. If we don’t address this now, then it could give rise to hatred between races in Sabah,” he said.

In the Petagas case, Abdul Shukur Abdullah, 57, died in hospital a day after he sustained serious head injuries in a fight between his 31-year-old son and the two Pakistanis.

Omar said Shukur had attempted to separate his son and the duo but was attacked himself. He fell to the ground and passed out.

He said the son had earlier got into an argument with one of the Pakistanis who accused him of stealing a packet of crackers costing RM2, which he had actually already paid for.

“The Pakistani did not see him making the payment and confronted the man. Things turned worse when the other Pakistani butted in and a commotion broke out.

“That is when the victim (Shukur) came in to break them up,” he said.

A post-mortem confirmed he had died from serious bleeding in the brain. The son, meanwhile, suffered a broken arm and leg.

Omar said one of the Pakistanis, aged 44, held a green MyKad while the other, a 30-year-old, had a valid passport. The suspects, both of whom are married to locals, are in police custody now.

He said the case was initially classified under Section 147 of the Penal Code for rioting but has since been re-classified to Section 302 for murder, adding police are also still looking for those who set the car on fire.

In the Ranau case, Omar said police had arrested 10 people, including five foreigners, in connection with a brawl between groups, made up of both locals and foreigners, on June 9. A machete and iron pipe were also recovered.

This was also a small incident initially, he said, when a local assaulted a Filipino.

The next day, a friend of the Filipino went to a shop where the assailant was always seen. He asked, in a good way, why his friend was hit but the assailant came with several others and confronted him. A fight then broke out.

“The incident went viral and attracted many unsavoury comments. Some were instigating locals to come down to Ranau and attack foreigners there,” he said.

In view of the situation, Omar said police had ordered their men to be on the alert for trouble in Ranau.

“So my advice to the people is to stay calm and let the police do their work.

“Those found inciting hatred over racial issues can be charged under Section 504 of the Penal Code, which deals in intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace,” Omar said.

He added they could also face action under Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998.