PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Malaysia's Senior Minister for Security Ismail Sabri Yaakob has become the latest victim of fake news, which claimed that he does not welcome Singaporeans into the country.
Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri said on Saturday (June 13) the false news, which has gone viral on social media, can cause a strain in the relationship between Malaysia and its southern neighbour Singapore.
"The truth is, our borders are still closed to everyone, including Singaporeans, so such news is malicious," he said at his daily briefing for the coronavirus. "This act can sour the relationship between Malaysia and our neighbour Singapore."
The minister also noted that his voice had been doctored in the offending tweet.
"I have lodged a report with the police and the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC)," he said.
Malaysia has closed its borders to foreigners since March 18, when it implemented a partial shutdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus. While it has since eased movement restrictions within the country, Malaysians are still not permitted to travel abroad.
Singapore and Malaysia are currently in talks to ease travel restrictions between their countries, with the necessary protocols and measures in place in view of the coronavirus pandemic.
Mr Ismail Sabri,who is also Defence Minister, said that as of Saturday, some 266 investigation papers have been opened by the police and MCMC on fake news relating to Covid-19, the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus.
From that total, 179 are still under investigation. Meanwhile, 30 people have been charged in court, 11 given warning notices and 18 have pleaded guilty.
The minister said there have not been any new investigation papers in the past two weeks, which showed that people were more aware about the dangers of sharing fake news.
"However, the police and MCMC will continue to monitor the spread of fake news.
"People are reminded to be careful before sharing unverified news," he said, adding that the public could verify such news at the government fact-checking website.