PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The public should not spread modified pictures, unverified news or any speculation regarding investigations into 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) through social media, said the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC).
In a press release on Thursday morning, the MCMC said "social media" included the mobile messaging application WhatsApp.
"It is an offence to share or spread such materials as it could break the law, especially Section 211 or Section 213 of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998. If one is found guilty, one could face a RM50,000 (S$17,840) fine, a one-year jail sentence or both," said the MCMC.
Under Section 211, it is an offence to provide content which is indecent, obscene, false, menacing, or offensive in character with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass any person.
Last Friday, the Wall Street Journal published a report alleging that nearly US$700 million (S$947 million) of funds, purportedly from the Government investment arm, had been channelled to personal bank accounts of Prime Minister Najib Razak
Since then, Foreign Minister Anifah Aman has said that action may be taken against anyone who tries to tarnish the image of the country by criticising the Government and Najib.
Many took to the Internet on Thursday to question the commission's warning, including social activist Marina Mahathir, daughter of former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.
“Jails will be full,” tweeted Marina, attaching a link to a news portal report on the statement by MCMC.
The commission's warning came a short while after the hashtag #1MDBMovies started trending on Twitter.
Others also took to Twitter, echoing Marina’s views.
“I think the hashtag #1MDBMovies is trending, the police would not have enough personnel to detain everyone,” wrote user @AkemAiman.
“Wow, now if we lampoon #1MDBMovies we go to jail. I wonder if they can put over 60 per cent of Malaysia in jail, do they ever think before they talk?” asked user @kishinmahtani30.