Thursday, 30 January 2020

Stern warning to fake news spreaders

KUCH­ING: Those re­spon­si­ble for spread­ing fake news on the Wuhan coro­n­avirus out­break can be jailed for up to two years, warned Sarawak Sarawak’s Deputy Po­lice Com­mis­sioner Datuk Dev Ku­mar.
He said one such case in­volved the ‘news’ that a pa­tient al­legedly in­fected with the coro­n­avirus had been admi ed to Tim­ber­land Med­i­cal Cen­tre here, which went vi­ral on so­cial me­dia re­cently.
“The man­age­ment of Tim­ber­land Med­i­cal Cen­tre has lodged a po­lice re­port yes­ter­day (Tues­day) and the case is be­ing in­ves­ti­gated un­der Sec­tion 505(b) of the Pe­nal Code and Sec­tion 233 of the Com­mu­ni­ca­tions and Mul­ti­me­dia Act (CMA) 1998,” he told a press con­fer­ence yes­ter­day.
Dev Ku­mar, who ear­lier a ended a State Dis­as­ter Man­age­ment Commi ee meet­ing, said po­lice were still in the midst of iden­ti­fy­ing those re­spon­si­ble for the fake news.
Sec­tion 505(b) of the Pe­nal Code makes it a crim­i­nal of­fence for who­ever makes, pub­lishes or cir­cu­lates any state­ment, ru­mour or re­port with in­tent to cause, or which is likely to cause, fear or alarm to the pub­lic, or to any sec­tion of the pub­lic whereby any per­son may be in­duced to com­mit an of­fence against the state or against pub­lic tran­quil­ity.
Those guilty shall be pun­ished with im­pris­on­ment which may ex­tend to two years or with fine or with both, he said.
Sec­tion 233(1)(a) of the CMA makes the im­proper use of net­work fa­cil­i­ties or net­work ser­vices a crim­i­nal of­fence, which car­ries a max­i­mum fine of RM50,000 or a jail term not ex­ceed­ing one year or both.
“The po­lice will not hes­i­tate to take ac­tion against those who are re­spon­si­ble for the of­fences un­der those sec­tions,” added Dev Ku­mar.
Deputy Chief Min­is­ter Datuk Amar Dou­glas Ug­gah, mean­while, de­scribed those spread­ing fake news on the out­break as “very ir­re­spon­si­ble”, adding their ac­tions could trig­ger un­nec­es­sary alarm, dis­rup­tion and con­fu­sion among the pub­lic.
“My ad­vice is to please stop it (spread­ing fake news). Any in­for­ma­tion on the spread of Wuhan coro­n­avirus in Sarawak will of­fi­cially be re­leased by the commi ee, apart from the Min­istry of Health,” he said.
Mean­while in Kuala Lumpur, the Malaysian Com­mu­ni­ca­tions and Mul­ti­me­dia Com­mis­sion (MCMC) has de­tained a sus­pect for al­legedly spread­ing fake news on the coro­n­avirus out­break.
A state­ment is­sued by MCMC yes­ter­day stated that the sus­pect, aged 34, was ar­rested in Bangi, Se­lan­gor, at 4pm Tues­day for in­ves­ti­ga­tion on a post­ing that was up­loaded on a Face­book page on Jan 26.
“The con­tent on the coro­n­avirus is found to be false. Also seized were a hand­phone and a SIM card be­long­ing to the sus­pect, which were be­lieved to be used to up­load the con­tent on the Face­book page,” it said.
The case is be­ing in­ves­ti­gated un­der Sec­tion 233 of the Com­mu­ni­ca­tions and Mul­ti­me­dia Act 1998.
NEWS SOURCE: The Borneo Post (Dated:30.01.2020-Front page Headline)

Tuesday, 28 January 2020

Sarawak tourism industry slightly affected by global Coronavirus situation

KUCHING - The tourism industry in Sarawak is expected to slightly be affected by recent China’s ban on in­ter­na­tional group travel to con­tain the deadly coro­n­avirus out­break. Malaysia’s move to stop is­su­ing visas for Chi­nese cit­i­zens from Wuhan and the ar­eas around Hubei prov­ince has also badly hit the tourism in­dus­try in neighbouring Sabah.
This was mentioned recently by Sabah As­so­ci­a­tion of Tour and Travel Agents (Satta) pres­i­dent Datuk Seri Win­ston Liaw who has asked the gov­ern­ment to step in and help the tourism sec­tor as Satta ex­pects a sharp drop in tourist ar­rivals to Sabah.
He said about 45 per­cent of tourists ar­riv­ing in Sabah presently are from China and with the pol­icy change on trav­els im­posed by the coun­try due to the dis­ease, the tourism sec­tor in Sabah is ex­pect­ing the worst. From Jan­uary to Septem­ber last year, China was the third big­gest source of for­eign tourists (2.41 mil­lion ar­rivals) for Sabah af­ter Sin­ga­pore (7.8 mil­lion) and In­done­sia (2.7 mil­lion).
“The prob­lems are ex­cep­tional. In my 30 years in this line, this will be one of the most chal­leng­ing so far,” he told re­porters af­ter meet­ing with other tourism play­ers from Malaysian As­so­ci­a­tion of Tour and Travel Agents (Matta) and Malaysia Chi­nese Tourism As­so­ci­a­tion (MCTA).
He added that to date, a to­tal of 22 tour groups from Sabah had left for China.
The groups have no place to go, he said, since all the at­trac­tion points have been shut.
Restau­rants have also been closed due to the di­rec­tive from the gov­ern­ment, he said.
“We have hun­dreds of tour mem­bers now stuck in China and they have re­quested to re­turn early,” he said.
Liaw said it is es­ti­mated that be­tween 600 and 700 tour mem­bers fol­low­ing the tours from Sabah are now stranded in China, ex­clud­ing Free In­de­pen­dent Trav­el­ers (FIT).
“If we in­clude the FIT, there are over 1,000 of them now stranded there,” he said.
He added that so far, five tour groups to China from Sabah have also been can­celled.
“It is un­for­tu­nate that it has to hap­pen in 2020,” he said.
He then urged tour mem­bers who have booked to travel to China to can­cel their trip since the pri­or­ity would be their safety.
Liaw also asked the air­lines in­volved to as­sist the tour op­er­a­tors in­volved in Sabah as the lat­ter will in­cur losses.
“With some air­lines, they can pro­vide re­fund while some al­low their trav­ellers to de­fer their dates of trav­els,” he said.
How­ever, he said those booked on char­ter flights would face a prob­lem as they won’t be able to de­fer their travel itin­er­ar­ies.
Nev­er­the­less, com­mu­ni­ca­tion is un­der­way to see if re­funds could be ar­ranged, he said.
In ad­di­tion, the tourism sec­tor in Sabah is also af­fected by the China gov­ern­ment’S de­ci­sion to sus­pend trav­els abroad for its cit­i­zens.
Liaw said var­i­ous play­ers rang­ing from ho­tels to restau­rants to tour buses would be ad­versely im­pacted by the de­ci­sion.
He added that all tour op­er­a­tors op­er­at­ing on pre­paid mode and ask if the gov­ern­ment could come in to help over­come this prob­lem so that the losses to the in­dus­try could be min­i­mized.
In view of the cur­rent sce­nario, he ex­pects the in­dus­try will take up to six months to re­cover, and that some, who are faced with weak­ened fi­nan­cial ca­pa­bil­i­ties, may not make it at all.
“They may have to close their op­er­a­tion,” he said.
He also said that the sce­nario would also have neg­a­tive im­pact on the em­ploy­ment scene in Sabah and that the prospect of peo­ple be­ing laid off from work is very likely.
Matta pres­i­dent Tan Kok Liang said tour agents had been re­ceiv­ing a lot of can­cel­la­tions, although he did not have the ac­tual num­ber.
As of now, Tan said, in­bound and out­bound tourism be­tween Malaysia and China have been se­verely af­fected.
“The Wuhan coro­n­avirus will af­fect the na­tional tourism in­dus­try. Matta hopes that the sit­u­a­tion is con­tained and that it will last only for a short pe­riod.
“We hope the sit­u­a­tion will be con­tained and will only be for the short term, other­wise the reper­cus­sions will be more se­vere as it will af­fect the global tourism,” he said. NEWS SOURCE: The Borneo Post (Dated 28.01.2020)