Well, that’s a relief.
Responding to reports that it would crack down on anyone making comments, funny or not, about the ongoing 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) fiasco, the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) clarified today that its enforcement online does not extend to parodies and content that is obviously fabricated for entertainment.
Last week, Wall Street Journal published a damning report alleging that US$700-million of funds from state investment company 1MDB had been funnelled into the Prime Minister’s personal accounts.
Malaysian authorities have set up a “special task force” to look into the matter. Najib meanwhile, has insisted on multiple occasions that he did not use the money for “personal gain”.
Since then, creative-minded Malaysian netizens have been having a field day churning out memes and puns alluding to the 1MDB scandal — Lord of the Ringgits, The Pirates of 1MDB, and How To Train Your MInisters, among others.
Are their creators and sharers in danger?
According to MCMC strategic comunications director Sheikh Raffie Abdul Rahman, the commission’s earlier warning to Malaysian netizens was to remind them that distribution of “false” or “offensive” materials connected to the case was an offence, he told The Malay Mail Online‘s Melissa Chi. “See Part 7.3 of the Content Code,” he told MMO in a brief text message when contacted on the matter.
This is what it says: “Content which is false, is expressly prohibited except in any of the following circumstances: (a) Satire and parody; (b) Where it is clear to an ordinary user that the content is fiction.”
Sections 211 and 233 of the same law however, states that it is an offence to provide electronic content that is indecent, obscene, false, menacing or offensive with the intent to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass any person.
Those convicted under the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 could face a maximum prison term of not more than one year, a fine of not more than RM50,000, or both.
Obviously, online trolls wanting to take the piss out of the 1MDB controversy still have a land mine of content generation issues to manoeuvre.
But in the meantime, hashtags like #1MDBMovies (“Lord of the Ringgit”! “Dude, Where’s My Pension?”! “The Fantastic 42 Billion”!) and parody images like the one we’ve got up on our header are still okay … maybe.
It depends, really.
Here are some of the funniest ones we found:
1. The Wolf Of Wall Street
2. The Lord Of The Rings
3. How To Train Your Dragon
4. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
5. I Know What You Did Last Summer
6. Jerry Maguire
7. Lawrence of Arabia
8. And more…