Coordination unit can tackle 3R issues without restricting freedom of expression, say experts

20 Jul 2023 09:55pm
Professor Dr Nik Ahmad Kamal Nik Mahmood
Professor Dr Nik Ahmad Kamal Nik Mahmood
KUALA LUMPUR - There must be efforts to create a coordinated unit with social media platform providers to deal with issues related to the 3Rs (royalty, religion and race) without restricting the freedom of expression, in line with Article 10 of the Federal Constitution, experts say.

The National Professors Council (MPN) Governance, Law and Management Cluster head, Professor Dr Nik Ahmad Kamal Nik Mahmood said the unit will tackle the 3R issues often played up on social media and assist the government in seeking cooperation from social media providers to help regulate posts on the sensitive issues.

"I think the government would not want those who play up the 3R issues to be criminally charged because it will seem that it is restricting freedom of expression.

"Instead, the government may take a softer approach by advising those who abuse the 3R issues with the involvement of social media platform providers," he said when contacted by Bernama today.

The law lecturer at Taylor’s University said with this involvement, the source of the messages can be identified before further action can be taken by the authorities.

He said the best approach would be to advise or warn the perpetrators, unless they are repeat offenders of which the number is small, adding the unit will only be successful if it gets the full cooperation from the social media platform providers.

Yesterday, Communications and Digital Minister Fahmi Fadzil raised the need for enforcement agencies and social media platform providers to set up a coordination unit to tackle issues relating to the 3Rs.

The unit which will involve the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) under the Ministry of Communications and Digital (KKD) and the police force is to ensure that no parties can play up the 3R issues to gain political support throughout the upcoming state elections in Penang, Selangor, Negeri Sembilan, Kelantan, Terengganu and Kedah.

Constitutional law expert, Prof Datuk Dr Wan Ahmad Fauzi Wan Husain shared the same sentiment, saying that the unit will not restrict freedom of speech as the Federal Constitution states that the right to freedom of expression is guaranteed and must be respected.
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"Only the courts can determine punishments or judge whether a person is guilty or innocent. Police, on the other hand, can only conduct investigations, the government or the police cannot carry out sentencing.

The associate professor at the International Institute of Islamic Thought and Civilisation, International Islamic University Malaysia (ISTAC-IIUM) elaborated that a responsible citizen and leader must comply with the principles of the Rukunegara, especially the rule of law and the supremacy of the Constitution.

Describing the move to establish the unit as ‘good intention’, he said the government through MCMC should only act as a provider of information or content related to 3Rs to enforcement agencies instead of censoring content on social media because it could provoke anger from the people.

Meanwhile, Universiti Teknologi MARA’s (UiTM) security and political analyst at the Centre for Media and Information Warfare Studies Dr Noor Nirwandy Mat Noordin said in the long term, the unit is essential for ideology formation to develop an understanding of the country and the 3R issues based on the principles enshrined in the Federal Constitution and Rukunegara.

"This will create harmony and the spirit to preserve the Constitution and Rukunegara and avert playing up issues related to the 3Rs," he said.

Expressing support for the KKD’s initiative, Noor Nirwandy also said the people must have a basic understanding of the 3R issues through knowledge of information warfare, whereas politicians must honour their loyalty pledge and the oath that they have taken as the people’s representatives and not touch on the sensitive issues that could threaten harmony in the country.

"This is the basic understanding and a significant responsibility. So, when a leader touches on the 3Rs, then we (the government) cannot tolerate it," he said.

Meanwhile, Pas vice president Datuk Mohd Amar Nik Abdullah when met after opening the Islamic Museum at the Urban Transformation Centre in Kota Bharu today said the party welcomed the proposal to establish the special unit, saying that PAS would not want to overstep boundaries when campaigning and cause tension among the races. -Bernama

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