PM Najib and wife say they have been victims of fake news

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said fake news was widely circulated during the 2013 elections, while his wife Rosmah Mansor said fake Facebook accounts were created in her name.
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said fake news was widely circulated during the 2013 elections, while his wife Rosmah Mansor said fake Facebook accounts were created in her name.PHOTO: REUTERS

KUALA LUMPUR • Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak and his wife Rosmah Mansor have separately said that they have been victims of fake news, and have pointed to the prevalence of social media for the phenomenon.

Datuk Seri Najib said he expects fake news to be widely spread at the coming general election, similar to what happened in the previous polls where fake news had duped many Malaysians.

"Social media is hard to control. This does not only happen in Malaysia. Almost every country in the world is affected by fake news circulated in social media," Sin Chew Daily newspaper quoted him as saying at a youth meeting last Saturday.

He cited, as an example, the fake news widely circulated during the 2013 election that the Barisan Nasional government had flown in 40,000 Bangladeshi nationals to vote for it.

"To bring in 40,000 of Bangladeshi workers, 100 units of 747s would be required. No one saw many airplanes ferry Bangladeshi workers but Malaysians chose to believe such baseless fake news, especially during the campaigning period," Mr Najib was quoted as saying.

"Some locals were even harassed because they looked like Bangladeshis."

Malaysia's general election is due by August next year, but is widely expected to be held in the next five months.

Mr Najib said the government has no control over social media.

  • 40k Number of Bangladeshi nationals said to have been flown in by the Barisan Nasional government to vote for it during the 2013 election, in an example of fake news cited by Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.

"Technology does not permit that. Secondly, people would be angry as they want freedom on the Internet. But I would like to remind (them that) freedom comes with responsibility. This requires people's wisdom and judgment," he added.

At a separate function yesterday, Ms Rosmah said she has been a victim of fake news and cyber bullying.

"There have been a few Facebook accounts created in my name when I actually don't have any social media accounts and am not good at social media," she told a seminar on cybercrime in Kuala Lumpur, as quoted by The Malaysian Insight news site.

"I don't even have a smartphone," she added.

She said Malaysians should not be easily influenced by those who use social media to confuse people and poison minds.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 23, 2017, with the headline 'PM Najib and wife say they have been victims of fake news'. Print Edition | Subscribe