KL to set up centre to fight online extremism

KUALA LUMPUR • Malaysia will launch Asean's first digital messaging centre to combat violent extremism in cyberspace on May 1, said Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

"We are adopting the template used by the United States and the United Arab Emirates to establish the centre," he told reporters in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday.

"The government has allocated an initial RM200 million (S$66 million) for this purpose," he was quoted as saying by The Star.

Malaysia confirmed in October last year that it would host a regional centre to counter the messages of hate and violence put online by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) to recruit foreign fighters.

In his closing speech at an international conference on deradicalisation on Tuesday, Mr Zahid said it was imperative for all nations to employ more effective strategies and commit more resources to challenging radical narratives, including on digital platforms.

A Pew Research Centre study last year showed that 11 per cent of Malaysians supported ISIS. Many of those drawn to the group came from broken families and had a shallow understanding of religion, reported the Malay Mail Online.

Mr Zahid, who is also the Home Minister, said discussions were being held among three government agencies to manage the centre, which will be set up with the help of the US.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 28, 2016, with the headline 'KL to set up centre to fight online extremism'. Print Edition | Subscribe