Yesterday, 12 January, the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) issued a statement imploring the public to be courteous when posting online amidst the state of emergency
In the statement that was published by their official Twitter account, MCMC noted that they will be monitoring the spread of false information and statements that touch on the '3Rs' — race, religion, and royalty.
After that, some netizens responded to the statement with screenshots of vulgar tweets from 2014 that appear to have been published by the MCMC official Twitter account
MCMC then suspended the account and issued a statement claiming that they were hacked
MCMC wrote, "We would like to inform that the official Twitter account @SKMM_MCMC was hacked by an irresponsible party. Following that, the official Twitter account @SKMM_MCMC has been temporarily suspended."
They also added that the public should not be influenced by the "suspicious, ugly, and defamatory messages that have been uploaded through the account, which are not from MCMC".
However, a Twitter user came forward and claimed that the tweets being circulated belonged to him
The man, known as @NazruiHakim or Naz, wrote, "Hi. I sold the account when I was in Form 3 or 4. When it had 50,000 followers. I did not delete the old tweets because it did not cross my mind."
He then added that he sold the account to another user with the Twitter username @SaidOsem.
"So I didn't know that after that it became the official Twitter account for MCMC," he said.
According to Malay Mail, the person who purchased the Twitter account is believed to be either a current or former staff member at the commission.
They also reported that when a person or entity wishes to acquire an account that has already amassed a considerable number of followers straight away, it is considered as account trading and it violates Twitter's terms and conditions.
People then called for MCMC to address the issue and clarify why they reportedly bought the account
Lim Kit Siang's political secretary Syahredzan Johan issued a statement saying that MCMC and the Ministry of Communications and Multimedia (KKMM) must come clean. He noted that Naz's claim raises several questions that need to be answered.
"First, is it true that MCMC's account used to be a personal account as alleged? If true, what need is there for MCMC to take over a personal account?" the statement read.
"If it was taken over by MCMC, is it true that payments were made? Was the payment, as claimed by @NazruiHakim, made by MCMC and how much was paid? Lastly, if MCMC did make payments, did it go through the right government procurement process?"
Meanwhile, co-founder of the Malaysian United Democratic Alliance (MUDA) Lim Wei Jiet wrote, "Everyone knows MCMC unprofessionally bought over a rempit's account, and not because of 'diceroboh' (hacked).
"So, MCMC, which has been asking rakyat not to spread fake news, is now spreading fake news."
"Oh, and by the way, [Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act (CMA) 1998] makes it an offence to spread fake news," he added.
One day after the issue was brought to light, Communications and Multimedia Minister Saifuddin Abdullah said that the ministry will investigate the case
A statement issued by the minister read, "I have ordered the KKMM Secretary General to launch a full investigation from every angle, including the operating procedures of said Twitter account."
"If an offence is found, stern action will be taken against those responsible, regardless of whether they are still serving at MCMC or not. We at KKMM will not compromise and will act transparently in addressing this issue."