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)
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)