S’gor floods: MCMC tries to remove posts critical of govt, Twitter says ‘No’

The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) has unsuccessfully sought to remove Twitter posts that are critical of the government’s handling of last weekend’s flash floods that have devastated communities, particularly in parts of Selangor and Pahang.

A netizen posted yesterday that he had received an email from Twitter informing him about a request made by MCMC to the micro-blogging site to remove his Twitter posts.

However, Twitter rejected MCMC’s request.

“In the interest of transparency, we are writing to inform you that Twitter has received a request from MCMC regarding your Twitter account that claims the following content violates the law(s) of Malaysia.

“We have not taken any action on the reported content at this time as a result of this request,” said the email from Twitter, which was shared by the netizen who uses Twitterhandle @BadBoy2662.

Based on the email, the contents that MCMC wants removed include a tweet where the netizen criticised a flood fundraising event that involved Women, Family and Community Development Minister Rina Harun.

The other content that MCMC took issue with was a tweet that criticised Entrepreneur Development and Cooperatives Minister Noh Omar over the latter’s statement regarding the eligibility of flood victims to claim government aid.

When contacted for comments over the allegation, Communications and Multimedia Minister Annuar Musa only gave a short reply to Malaysiakini last night.

Karut…,” he said in a text message. Karut means nonsense in Bahasa Malaysia.

However, MCMC when contacted earlier today did not deny the matter, and said they have reported to Twitter several hashtags that are “obscene”.

In a short statement, the commission said they made the request to ensure the law as per Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 is complied with.

Section 233 of the CMA stipulates offences related to improper use of network facilities or services, and was commonly used to crackdown netizens who upload social media posts that authorities deem as offensive or can potentially incite hatred, among others.

“MCMC always respects platform providers such as Twitter. MCMC also has the responsibility to ensure that there is compliance with existing laws as stipulated under Section 233 of the CMA.

“Thus, MCMC has taken the action of reporting the use of several obscene hashtags to Twitter,” said the commission’s statement.

Not isolated case

Malaysiakini learnt that the Twitter user @BadBoy2662 was not the only account that had been reported by MCMC to Twitter.

In one of the replies to @BadBoy2662’s post about MCMC failed attempt, another Twitter user also shared a similar experience.

@cheryltanxr__ wrote: “I also kena lmao” (I also experienced this).

Checks on her account found that she has already deleted the original tweet that MCMC had taken issue with. However, based on another tweet, it was understood that she had criticised a flood relief shelter over alleged discrimination against foreigners.

“Some of you may be wondering where my tweet about one of the shelters discriminating foreigners went. Just want to update here that I’ve received a warning from Twitter and MCMC asking me to remove my tweet as I’ve violated Malaysian laws.

“I would love to keep the tweet up and see how far they’re willing to go, but my parents are not happy with me. Just know that our government has the [REDACTED] audacity to do nonsense like this and try to silence voices over actually being helpful at this time,” she tweeted early in the morning yesterday.

Meanwhile, Batu Kawan MP Kasthuri Patto criticised the authority’s attempt to remove dissent against the government on social media.

“#KeluargaMalaysia means nothing if you allow MCMC to persecute those who criticise the government for its ineffectiveness in managing the floods.

“Even you have admitted flaws of the govt in this,” she said in a Tweet directed at Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob.

“Instruct MCMC to stop intimidating voices of dissent!”

Batu Kawan MP Kasthuri Patto

According to the DAP MP, at least three such cases have been brought to her attention.

She also questioned MCMC’s swift action when it comes to criticism against Putrajaya, compared to other issues such as cyberbullying and religious bigotry in comments that were made on social media.

“There have been many occasions where sexist, racist and bigoted religious comments that went unreported by MCMC. Of course, anyone can report an account and Twitter has the sole authority and power to decide if the post should be removed or the account suspended.

“But to have a state agency reporting these accounts – when the contents have been against the conduct and management of the flood is a dangerous violation of free speech in Malaysia.

“Apart from that, did MCMC work as fast when dealing with cyberbullying cases? When women and men were victims of bullying and harassment online?”

According to Twitter’s transparency report, the platform had received 194 legal demands from Malaysia to remove content last year, affecting 219 Twitter accounts. This may include requests both from government entities and lawyers representing individuals.

Twitter had complied with 59.2 percent of the requests. In 127 of the accounts where action was taken, the offending accounts had also violated Twitter’s own terms of service.

Frustration over govt’s rescue response, ‘publicity’ visits boils over online

Frustration and anger over the government’s poor rescue response towards the floods as well as some politicians’ perceived exploitation of the disaster for publicity are boiling over on social media.

Netizens have posted various videos of flood victims reacting negatively to ministers visiting the affected areas or pointing out the lacklustre rescue and relief efforts by the government, among others.

Some of the videos posted include one by Twitter user Farid Reduan, who said his one-minute clip was taken at Bukit Changgang, Selangor.

In the video, what appears to be a government official’s car convoy, escorted by police riders, was seen driving past several people resting under a blue tent.

A woman sitting at the tent is heard quipping sarcastically as the cars pass by:

“Thank you, you guys helped out so much.

“Wow, so many (cars) here to help out with the flood.

“Tomorrow, when the flood has subsided, come again yeah,” she is heard saying, with some laughing at her last remark.

Another video was posted by a TV3 reporter, which showed a man identified only as Pak Din at the SK Telok Gong temporary shelter in Port Klang, Selangor. The reporter said there is a lack of food and water supplies at the shelter.

The incensed man appeared to be scolding someone off-camera in the 45-second video clip.

“We are hoping for help from donors. Where is the government!

“What is your responsibility? We chose you to manage our safety and our lives.

“We have now been struck with disaster, three days here and we only received help from donors. Help, where is the National Security Council? Where is the Welfare Department?” he questioned.

Yet another video on Twitter by user Haziq Asyraf Jr showed Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob sitting in a car speaking out of the car window to a woman who was standing in front of her house.

The woman is heard telling the prime minister that her house is on high enough ground and that there are worse-affected areas further in.

Meanwhile, a video posted on TikTok depicts what appears to be Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz wearing a life jacket on a boat heading towards flooded buildings with only their roofs visible.

The boat was full of people, with several also wearing life jackets. As they arrived at the roofs, the minister is helped out of the boat onto a roof.

The caption of the video claimed that the boat was full of the minister’s officers, bodyguards, as well as cameramen.

@shirul74Ada jenis bantu..Bantu menyenangkan dan ada juga bantu buat orang susah..##fyp ##foryoupage ##senyum

♬ Monkeys Spinning Monkeys – Kevin MacLeod & Kevin The Monkey

There was also a picture posted on Twitter by user Cen Polo, which showed boxes of supplies on the back of a truck. The boxes were printed with the Perikatan Nasional (PN) logo as well as a photo of Kuala Langat MP Xavier Jayakumar.

“Aid arrived late because they had to wait for the boxes with logos to be ready. No wonder,” the user tweeted.

Aside from that, “DO NOT DONATE TO GOVERNMENT” is trending on Malaysian Twitter, with over 34,600 tweets at the time of writing. It is believed the phrase started trending after the government launched the Keluarga Malaysia Flood Relief Fund on Monday.

Many tweets with that phrase were of users expressing their disappointment with the government and encouraged donations to NGOs instead.

Some also expressed doubt about what the donated funds will be used for.