Asean anti-terror digital messaging centre to be launched in May: Malaysia DPM Ahmad Zahid

Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid announced the launch of Asean's first ever anti-terror digital messaging centre in Malaysia.
Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid announced the launch of Asean's first ever anti-terror digital messaging centre in Malaysia.PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIAN NEWS NETWORK

KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Malaysia will launch Asean's first messaging centre to combat violent extremism in cyberspace on May 1, Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said on Tuesday (Jan 26).

"We are adopting the template used by the United States and the United Arab Emirates to establish the centre," he told reporters after closing the International Conference on Deradicalisation and Countering Violent Extremism (IDC 2016) in Kuala Lumpur.

"The Government has allocated an initial RM200 million (S$66.65 million) for this purpose," he added.

Malaysia had confirmed last October that it would host a regional centre that sends out the "right" message to counter the distorted narrative of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in its recruitment of foreign fighters.

While details on the centre were not yet available it is likely to resemble the one already set up by the US in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which is designed to counter ISIS's social media strength and present a more attractive alternative.

Mr Zahid, also the Home Minister, said on Tuesday discussions were being held among three government agencies to manage the centre.

In his closing speech at the conference, he said it was imperative for all nations to employ more effective strategies and commit more resources to counter radical narratives, including on digital platforms.

"Malaysia has moved ahead in developing a counter messaging centre in line with its efforts to counter extremism in cyberspace," he said.

The two-day conference saw experts from Asean countries and their strategic partners such as the United States, Japan, Saudi Arabia, and Australia sharing their respective countries' experiences in deradicalisation and rehabilitation programmes.

Malaysia and the United States agreed to set up the centre in November last year after the meeting between Prime Minister Najib Razak and President Barack Obama on the sidelines of the 27th Asean Summit.