They urge the government to be serious about drafting laws to deal with the phenomenon.
PETALING JAYA: Experts have sounded the alarm over the lack of laws to deter cyberbullying after the death of a single mother who was allegedly bullied on social media.
Speaking to FMT, Befrienders Kuala Lumpur publicity director Ardy Ayadali and Malaysian Mental Health Association president Andrew Mohanraj said the authorities appeared to be taking cyberbullying too lightly.
They were commenting on the recent death of a 44-year-old mother of three, who was believed to have been the target of hateful comments on her TikTok account.
Subang Jaya police chief Khalid Othman said the woman died as she was being rushed to hospital from her home in USJ. He said she had a history of depression.
Ayadali noted that there was no specific law in Malaysia to deal with cyberbullying despite a lot of talk about it for many years.
He said it remained a huge challenge to eradicate cyberbullying, considering the many forms of online social interactions. However, education and awareness could help prevent cases.
“The government should put more effort into combating cyberbullying as Malaysia is slowly climbing the ranks of being one of the top nations when it comes to cyberbullying,” he said.
He said online platforms could be “very toxic” and advised the public against taking everything on social media too seriously.
Victims suffering emotional or mental distress should seek help, he said.
Mohanraj said cyberbullying could have serious implications on mental health and urged the authorities to take a serious stand against it.
He said there was a strong link between the heavy use of social media and the risk of depression, anxiety, loneliness, self-harm and suicidal thoughts.
He advised victims to ignore negative comments since bullies are encouraged when victims react, to block bullies from their social media accounts and to record offensive comments and report them to the authorities.
“Do not suffer in silence. Reach out to friends and family for support.
“Do not let cyberbullies hiding behind computer screens take away your self-esteem as their destructive actions often reflect their own problems and cowardice,” he said.
Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii also commented on the issue. He urged the government to take measures to increase the public’s awareness of online abuse and bullying.
He called for awareness programmes to be held, especially in schools.
“Anti-bullying campaigns should be intensified and social media ethics and etiquette should be taught in schools,” he said.
In August last year, Malaysia Cybersecurity Outreach and Capacity Building senior vice-president Mustaffa Ahmad said the government was drafting laws to combat the increasing instances of cyberbullying.
Malaysia ranked second in Asia in 2020 for cyberbullying among youths, according to a United Nations Children’s Fund report.
While there is no specific law against cyberbullying, the online posting or sharing of obscene, indecent, false or offensive content is regulated under the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998. Those found guilty may be fined up to RM50,000, jailed for up to a year or made to suffer both penalties.
Befrienders Kuala Lumpur has advised those who are stressed or distressed or experiencing emotional problems to contact it at 03-7627 2929.