Police to track down source of message
Bandar Seri Begawan - Rumour mongers have been reminded to steer clear of spreading of false information many of which have made it to the public sphere, resulting in confusion and panic among the populace.
Over the past week, many across the country have been receiving what has been described as extremely baseless accounts of alleged on-goings in the Sultanate with the latest being a rumour that a bridge in Rimba had collapsed. The Public Works Department has dismissed this, stressing that such an account is baseless.
The rumour, which was spread through WhatsApp and SMS yesterday, warned drivers "especially those living in the Rimba area" that the flyover leading to the Rimba highway had collapsed and that they should forward the message to other people immediately.
The Public Works Department (PWD) has sought assistance from the Royal Brunei Police Force in tracking down those responsible for initiating the message.
"The PWD will take action against anyone who creates false rumours with the intention of creating mass panic. It is against the law for doing so and anyone found spreading such false messages will be prosecuted," stated the PWD in a press statement released last night.
Last week, a hoax message claimed that a Royal Brunei flight had crashed hours after taking off from Brunei. Those who received this message condemned the actions of those responsible of composing it. saving that such actions are "insensitive and wrong".
In November last year following a spat of unfounded information, the Borneo Bulletin published concerns aired by the public who called for tougher laws and providing local authorities with more legal powers to prosecute as a means to curb and, hopefully, eliminate these tasteless acts of "sharing" information from questionable sources.
Based on Brunei's regulations, an individual can be charged and prosecuted under two laws in relation to such deeds.
Under the Public Order Act, Chapter 148 for the dissemination of false report, "any person who, whether orally or in writing or by any other means, spreads false or makes false statements likely to cause public alarm and despondency shall be guilty of an offence". If found guilty, they could be jailed for three years and fined $3,000.
The second charge is under the Penal Code, Chapter 22 for intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of peace.
"Whoever makes, publishes, or circulates any statement, rumour or report with the intent to cause, or which is likely to cause, fear or alarm to the public, or to any section of the public whereby any person may be induced to commit an offence against Brunei Darussalam or against the public tranquillity" can be punished with imprisonment of up to five years and an undisclosed fine.--Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin