27/05/2020 09:22 PM
Opinions on topical issues from thought leaders, columnists and editors.
By :
Prof. Datuk Dr. Ismail Sualman

Malaysia is battling COVID-19 in an orderly way. We need to give our endless support to all efforts to win this war. Hence, the Malaysia Productivity Corporation (MPC), being the leading organisation in productivity enhancement, continues to spearhead the productivity improvement initiatives to achieve the nations' aspiration in the 'new norms' in rebuilding the country and increasing productivity.

During this time, the MPC has successfully moved our operations to telework to maintain our commitment to improving national productivity.

The COVID-19 outbreak still haunts the world, and drastic measures are being taken to address the threat. We fight to stop diseases that are harmful to public health and affect the economy and all aspects of life.

Human Capital

To increase employees' capacity and capability building during the Movement Control Order (MCO), the MPC initiated online meetings, forums, and sharing of social activities with internal employees through various digital platforms, namely Webinar and GotoMeeting.

This is the new norm to keep them engaged with the current situation and how the management can cascade down the 'stakeholders' directives and circulars in real-time. Total participation was 2,066 with an average of 400 participants per series.

The MPC also takes the opportunity to pursue productivity culture-building programmes with external organisations using online platforms with the industries and other government agencies. It sets up virtual advisory services through Webinar and conducts virtual advisory clinics and virtual training.

Among the initiatives undertaken were video competition and prize-giving ceremonies on the Productivity Linked Wage System (PLWS) with universities. Productivity experts are also given the opportunity to conduct online training such as C Suite for leaders and share knowledge on 'new norms' to the employees of enterprises to prepare them for the post-COVID-19 environment.

Between March 17 and April 28, 2020, nine-three online programmes were organised and these were attended by a total of 14,104 participants, an average of 150 participants per programme.

The MPC, with technical experts, facilitates the SME business-recovery process using e-Business Solutions to rebuild their morale and revive their businesses, taking MCO as the opportunity to enhance soft skills among the SMEs. Among other types of online facilitation is the KOPI CHAT session, an online business consultancy on Cost-Effective I4.0 Solutions, Understanding New Normal for SMEs, Module Revision, and Pitching Session.

Fake News

While the authorities, especially frontliners, have been working hard to prevent and deal with these pandemic cases, false news has emerged. Almost every minute, we receive too much information related to COVID-19 but are unsure of the truth or validity of the news or information.

We have also received a flood of information and cannot tell the facts about COVID-19. So far, we no longer consider the information obtained through WhatsApp and other social media to be important.

Much of the correct information on COVID-19, in the form of genuine and authentic reminders or directives, was circulated through the social media, especially from the National Security Council (MKN).

Working, studying from home

The government has ordered us to stay home to prevent the COVID-19 virus from spreading. We have helped make it a mission to prevent and eliminate COVID-19 just by sitting at home.

We should still be grateful. Although it is prohibited to leave the house, it is still possible to interact through the Internet and social media. Imagine if we were sitting at home without social media and online relationships?

Most of us also spend our free time on social media. It wouldn't matter if we used it for good, like working digitally from home.

Now working and studying from home has become a productive trend. That means we can't compromise on productivity issues, as long as we have innovation and creativity. The growing online sales are proof, and we can do our jobs without the need for physical presence.

But whatever the case, we need to produce output or success. We need to teach a culture of productivity in the new normal. It may be a bit foreign and clumsy at the beginning but, over time, this new normal will become a habit. The new normal is not just for a month or two; it may shape all aspects of our lives now and in the future.

An approach that is out of the ordinary, but normal, has created a whole host of creativity and innovations that have never been thought of. School children learn from home without having to go to school.

Fake news confusing message to public

We are also faced with specific obstacles in dealing with the spread of false information or news. A small number of users have turned to social media as a courtesy to ridicule and insult officials and enforcement officials.

This is because, in recent times, fake news spread on social media has caused the public to be confused by the message being conveyed.

The irresponsible party deliberately slanders and presents false information for the sake of personal and stakeholder satisfaction. This false information can be considered an ‘outbreak’ that could affect productivity, reputation, and integrity.

The party who deliberately disseminates false information wants to be the champion as the first person to obtain and disseminate information. While some of them are not directly related to COVID-19, old pictures that are replayed or exchanged/edited sentences cause confusion and fear.

The various issues and polemics over COVID-19, also deliberately raised, with the agenda of undermining the dignity and integrity of individuals or organisations is partly false news. There is a kind of cyber warfare of continuously attacking each other and, at the same time, many fake stories are being created and disseminated without any real basis.

When we fight the COVID-19 outbreak, we also face disinformation. Disinformation refers to the dissemination of false information with the intent to defraud. Misinformation refers to the sharing of such material inadvertently, with no intent to defraud or otherwise endanger society. If left to proliferate, it can threaten national stability, community security, and racial harmony.

If we're not sure about COVID-19 information, don't share it! We do not understand why there are still people who fight and release anger by making derogatory statements on social media. There are still individuals who do not follow the instructions. COVID-19 is not confined to Malaysia, but has struck almost all countries around the world.

We should be thankful that the positive cases of the outbreak in Malaysia are decreasing, having dropped from the daily three digits to two now.

Prosecution of offenders

The increasingly perverse news of today must be addressed immediately. The offenders, either the individual or the organisation or the media industry involved, must be prosecuted. Don't let the fake news issue over COVID-19 interfere with the authorities and health care workers to comfortably carry out their task.

Anyone who spreads fake news about COVID-19 violates the Communications and Multimedia Act (CMA). Spreading fake news causes confusion and anxiety that can endanger personal and national security. Although the Defamation Act and several other acts can be used to overcome the symptoms of this fake news, proactive action is needed at this time.

The authorities, in particular the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), have an essential role in containing this false information. The authorities have investigated, arrested, and charged several individuals under Section 233 of the CMA and Section 505 (b) of the Penal Code.

Section 233 of the CMA deals with the creation or transmission of communications that are "offensive, indecent, false, threatening or offensive" with the intent to "harass, abuse, threaten or harass others", while Section 505 (b) of the Penal Code criminalises the publication or distribution of communications which causes or is likely to cause "fear or anxiety to the public".

Authorities should also use social marketing approaches to overcome the dissemination of information, such as giving regular briefings and press releases and posting updates and explanations on social and government websites.

To overcome misinformation, the key to measurement is that we must have access to transparent, accurate, and evidence-based information and continuous transparency and transparency.

Education of public

Malaysia also needs to focus its responsibility to educate the public and encourage people to make critical assessments of what they find online.

The "self-control" approach is critical to the ongoing efforts to address disinformation in the age of social media and messaging applications. This is because the reality of this platform requires greater digital literacy.

Forced measures, continuous correction of information, and the dissolution of false reports are not the most effective solutions. People must be informed and empowered to use their judgment and reasoning when determining the authenticity of the information.


Datuk Prof Dr Ismail Sualman is the Director of the Centre for Media and Information Warfare Studies, Faculty of Communication and Media Studies, Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM).

(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of BERNAMA)


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