Be careful with what you forward and share. It might lead you to jail. (Image via Shutterstock)

Spreading COVID-19 hoax, Malaysian retiree fined and imprisoned

In the time of distress, it is wise to keep calm and support each other. However, there must be parties that use the condition to spread fake news and hoaxes. Therefore, it is better to process the news first before forwarding it to your friends or family.

The case happened in Sabah, Malaysia, where a former employee – now retiree - of the Sabah State Railway Department, Aliuudin Amit (67), was fined RM5,000, in default 10 months’ jail. Amit himself pleaded guilty to the offense. All because he spread a hoax about the outbreak of the novel coronavirus originating from Wuhan, Hubei Province, Central China.

Amit forwarded a hoax conducing to public mischief by WhatsApp that a prisoner in Sandakan Prison passed away due to COVID-19, an official name of the novel coronavirus given by the World Health Organization (WHO).

According to Malaysian laws, Amit was charged with Section 505(b) of the Penal Code providing options for two-year imprisonment, or a fine, or both if found guilty.

Upon hearing the final verdict, Amit admitted his wrongdoing and promised not to fall into the same pit.

It was not the first time. Just last week, an award-winning Malaysian journalist, Wan Noor Hayati Wan Alias (41), was also charged with Section 505(b) of the Penal Code. This is the same journalist who was awarded the prestigious Kajai Award in 2014 and Tokoh Wartawan Rakyat in 2016. She is an acclaimed journalist with over 20 journalism awards.

Previously, Noor warned that 1,000 Chinese nationals had arrived in Penang amid the COVID-19 outbreak, while these nationals were already tested negative of COVID-19. Noor was eventually granted a bail of RM12,000 for all charges with one guarantor.