Police should be aware of growing national and international concerns at the indiscriminate use of the ISA to deal with cyber rumour-mongering

Media Conference Statement
by Lim Kit Siang  

(Petaling Jaya, Thursday): The CID Director Comm Datuk Yaacob Amin yesterday confirmed the arrest of a third person for cyber rumour-mongering.  The suspect, a bank employee, was arrested at about 3 p.m. by special CID team set up to investigate those responsible for the circulation of the rumours.

It is learnt that the police are still on the lookout for several others involved in spreading the rumours via the Internet about riots by Indonesian workers in Chow Kit and Sentul last Friday, causing panic rush by housewives to hypermarts and supermarkets.

DAP fully endorse the Bar Council chairman, Dr. Cyrus V. Das who called for those detained under the ISA on suspicion of spreading rumours through the Internet to be charged in court under other specific legislation that deals with such offences, like section 29 of the Telecommunications Act 1950, which reads:

The Police should be aware of growing national and international concerns at the indiscriminate use of the Internal Security Act to deal with cyber rumour-mongering, when there are adequate existing laws to deal with the offence which provide the accused an open and fair trial unlike the ISA with its detention-without trial provisions.

The authorities should realise that at stake is the credibility of the Bill of Guarantees of the Multimedia Super Corridor that there would be no censorship of the Internet and the Internet community must be assured that there is no ham-fisted handling and investigation  of the cyber rumour-mongering where innocent people are harassed and victimised.

There are  considerable reservations whether the Police have the IT expertise and capability to track the culprits who originated the rumours rather than those who were checking on the veracity of the rumours on the Internet.

The Police and the IT experts helping in the investigations should ensure that only the correct people are arrested, and that they do not make gross errors as evident in their initial "investigations results" on the TMnet hacking, when they wrongly identified a person in the east coast for doing it.

As is well known, computer logs are prone to misintrepretation and a wrong one would mean innocent people being slammed for actions they did not commit.


*Lim Kit Siang - Malaysian Parliamentary Opposition Leader, Democratic Action Party Secretary-General & Member of Parliament for Tanjong