[Update 13/11/2017: MCMC e-mailed and told us that our complaint has been resolved! The fake site is no longer accessible. So if anyone says MCMC doesn’t take complains seriously, here’s one case to prove them wrong!]
[Update 3/11/2017: MCMC contacted us to ask if we were the media owner and the reason we made the report. We replied that we were simply members of the public concerned about a fake site. MCMC said they would process our complaint.]
You might remember that back in 2015, the gomen was very actively cracking down on online media and blocking them. Among the websites that got in trouble, perhaps the most famous one was Sarawak Report, and we’ve even written articles talking about how it got blocked and a guide to how to unblock it.
So you can imagine our surprise when we found a direct and unblocked link that lead us straight to Sarawak Report! Wah, so did the gomen decide to forgive Claire? Are they friends now? That’s what it seems, until you take a closer look at the article headlines.
And that wasn’t the only one. It’s as if Sarawak Report has been dedicated to becoming a confession page for their personal remorse. If you click into the posts, you can read what each is specifically apologising for.
We don’t know about ugaiz, but right at this moment…
As you may have already guessed, it’s a fake Sarawak Report apology site
So as it turns out… the apologies were not from Sarawak Report. Searching through Sarawak Report’s Facebook page, we found a post warning against the bogus page dated 24th August 2017.
While its easy to accuse the culprits of maliciousness, we can’t really be sure what their actual intents are. After all, apologising on behalf of someone is not really a crime, embarrassed parents do it for their kids all the time. But, pretending to be someone else is. It’s like wearing someone’s skin and then apologising as them, we know Halloween is coming soon, but come on.
Taking cue from Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) goals and missions, we thought we would report the case to the relevant authorities, just for the fun of it. *Note: We’re not reporting the incident AS Sarawak Report, but on behalf of Sarawak Report in a way. See the difference?
We’re glad that we went and made the report, because we learnt quite a few things while doing so (it’s a electronic report, so don’t expect pictures of us posing with it). For example, there’s a long range of things that anyone can report to them, like terrorism threats, trolling, and even parodies!
We also found it weird that the report wanted us to specify the location of the problem, including details about the longitude and latitude of the place, so we just put the values for Kuching, Sarawak. Why would they need those values for? So they can key into their secret high tech spy satellite is it? (joking la… or ARE WE?! #illuminaticonfirmed)
Making the report wasn’t as easy as it sounds. Of course, we tried the “Get Map” function featured in the picture above, but it wasn’t working. It also took a few tries to get the exact geographical location of Kuching right as well. We also tried our luck on uncovering who owned the domain, and hopefully will be able to find who was behind the fake apologies. But it turned out to only be linked to some web hosting site called namecheap.com.
Anyway, the report has been completed and submitted, and it’s in the hands of the higher authority now. We’ll keep this updated if there’s feedback or development.
Wait… why did the gomen block Sarawak Report again?
Just to jog your memory (or if you didn’t even know), Sarawak Report and their sibling Radio Free Sarawak started out by reporting problem cases involving Sarawak’s former Chief Minister Taib Mahmud. It later moved their focus to PM Najib Razak and 1MDB, publishing many allegedly leaked documents, or forged according on who you ask. It was probably the first ever to publish something about 1MDB, and they’re pretty accurate about it (we checked before).
Then came the great 2015 crack down, that saw many websites including The Malaysian Insider and Sarawak Report blocked. Of course, we all know Malaysian Insider has already closed down now, but Sarawak Report is still doing their usual stuff, and you can still read them if you can access the site. If you can’t, don’t scare, CILISOS teach you how.
Besides publishing more articles about 1MDB, Clare Rewcastle Brown, the editor of Sarawak Report is more recently preparing for a legal battle against PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang. The editor is being sued for defamation because of an article Sarawak Report published that alleged PAS recieved RM90 million in exchange of support for BN.
Identity theft is a serious offence… but this case is pretty weird
Identity theft is an offence under Malaysia’s Penal code, but then … we’re not sure what posing as an entire website to apologise falls under exactly. Some may disagree with Sarawak Report’s content, but that’s within the rights of everyone to do so, but censorship contradicts the same right too. The idea of maintaining a free and open media is for people to be vocal about ideas and information, which is something both the Sarawak Report and the people not supporting them enjoy.
But that freedom is a double edge sword. While it can be used to spread verified and accurate information, the opposite is also true as well. In the end, it really is heavily dependent on the maturity of the audience to separate fact from fiction, and honest mistakes from malicious intent.
The story of the following quote illustrates the situation aptly. Although the meaning is still intact, it’s always wrongly attributed to the famous author Mark Twain, while it’s actually a quote from a novel called “The Man Who Sold the Moon” by Robert A. Heinlein.
“The whole principle is wrong; it’s like demanding that grown men live on skim milk because the baby can’t eat steak.” – Robert A. Heinlein