Malaysia mulls law amendment to tackle cyberbullying in wake of teen suicide

Malaysia mulls law amendment to tackle cyberbullying in wake of teen suicide

Gobind Singh Deo (1)
Malaysia's Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo. (Photo: Bernama)

KUALA LUMPUR: Putrajaya may amend laws governing Internet usage so as to tackle cyberbullying, said Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo on Wednesday (May 15).

This came after a 16-year-old girl from Sarawak had run a poll on photo-sharing app Instagram with the question "Really Important, Help Me Choose D/L", hours before jumping off the roof of a building on Monday.

Media reports, citing a close friend of the victim, said the 'D/L' meant 'Death/Life'. The poll showed 69 per cent of the girl's followers chose 'D', police said.

Mr Gobind was quoted as saying by Malay Mail that he has asked the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) to work with the police and ascertain the facts of the case.

“I feel we have to be very, very careful when it comes to matters like this. I think it is a serious matter where social media is being used in a manner which can endanger the lives of certain people.”

“I think at the same time, we also want to look at how the CMA (Communications and Multimedia Act) could perhaps be tweaked to deal with problems like this,” he added.

Meanwhile, the MCMC has urged the public to be more attentive to suicidal postings on social media. 

Such posts should be reported to the police, as well as the family and friends of the individual involved, it said in a statement on Wednesday.

Earlier, Mr Ramkarpal Singh, a lawyer and lawmaker, said that those who voted for the teenager to die could be guilty of abetting suicide. He also urged authorities to investigate the incident.

Under Malaysian law, anyone convicted of abetting the suicide of a minor could face the death penalty or up to 20 years' jail.

Syed Saddiq file pic
Malaysian Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman. (File photo: Bernama)

Malaysia's Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman also called for a probe, saying that rising suicide rates and mental health issues among young people needed to be taken seriously.

On Wednesday, Mr Gobind urged the media to exercise discretion in their reporting of the incident.

“We have to understand that there are many people directly involved and we should take steps so that when we report, we consider their (families’) feelings and views,” he was quoted as saying by the Malaysian Insight.

“I will speak about this in more detail in the coming days but I think a reminder (to the media) in cases like this, please exercise discretion.”

Source: CNA/Bernama/aw(tx)

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