No room for hate: Malaysia’s Centre for Independent Journalism launches ‘Say No To Hate Speech’ portal ahead of GE15

 Picture by Firdaus Latif/Wikimedia Commons
Picture by Firdaus Latif/Wikimedia Commons

As Malaysia’s 15th general election looms, there are bound to be tonnes of hate speech by political parties and those affiliated with it to gain support from voters. 

Unfortunately, the hate is mainly targeted at minority communities like migrants, refugees, the LGBTQ community, and followers of other faiths than Islam. 

If you’re tired of all that dirty politics, then we recommend you take an active part by reporting any hate speech targeted at these communities online via The Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ)’s “Say No to Hate Speech” portal.

The project is in collaboration between CIJ and other civil society groups like Sisters in Islam, Justice for Sisters, Tenaganita, and several others. 

“CIJ and our partners expect hate speech and the dissemination of disinformation to intensify, especially on social media, during GE15. Similar dynamics were at play during previous elections, and when potentially destabilising events threaten those in power. Examples include the period post-Sheraton Move, and during the Covid-19 pandemic,” CIJ’s executive director Wathshlah Naidu said at its launch today. 

“This microsite will make available data collected from our daily monitoring for public review and analysis. The portal will provide the media and the public with the necessary resources. Additionally, anyone can report hate speech via the portal,” she said.

Meanwhile, in regard to its own monitoring of hate speech leading up to election day which falls on Nov. 19, CIJ said the monitoring will be divided into two components. 

For the first component, the monitoring will measure the severity of hate speech around race, religion, royalty, gender and LGBTIQ, and refugee and migrants, which are amplified by political parties, politicians, government agencies, and media. 

The severity of hate speech will be determined by different tiers: Level 1 (disagreements or non-offensive language), Level 2 (offensive or discriminatory language), Level 3 (dehumanising or hostile language) and Level 4 (language that causes incitement or call for violence). 

The second one is the Rapid Response component which involves an alert system built on their monitoring data, which identifies when a particular speech requires a response or action in a timely manner.

“Our responses and actions will vary according to severity and risk levels. On the first level of response, CIJ and partners will provide communications support such as safety alerts, evidence-based Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), statements, media releases and social media engagement.”

“We will help the media and the public access social media platforms’ reporting mechanisms. Additional resources will be available to provide solidarity actions and support through the Legal Defense Fund (LDF) and other services. To counter disinformation and misinformation, alerts will be channeled to fact-checking initiatives.” 

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