Malaysian Won't Control Internet Though Youth Number Radicalized Through Social Media Increasing

Commonwealth Youth Dialogue Conference
Commonwealth Youth Dialogue Conference: Youth Summit on International Peace and Security & Building Community Resilience from the Ground Up (Photo: Business Times)

KUALA LUMPUR-  Malaysian Foreign Affairs Minister Saifuddin Abdullah revealed that since 2013, out of 481 individuals (locals and foreigners) arrested in Malaysia for terrorism, almost 80% of them were young people. A majority of those arrested in Malaysia, who went to Iraq and Syria, were radicalized through social media.

He said during the "Commonwealth Youth Dialogue Conference: Youth Summit on International Peace and Security & Building Community Resilience from the Ground Up" from 2 to 5 April 2019 in Kuala Lumpur.

"Unfortunately, the majority of Malaysians who influenced to join in the terrorist group are very young people. And we have a reason to worry because we do not want this trend to be continued." He said in the event's press conference.

In response to the usage of Facebook live streaming happening in the latest terror attack in Christchurch, New Zealand, Saifuddin told Business Times, "we are not in the mode of controlling the internet."

malaysia foreign minister saifuddin
(Photo : Business Times)
From left: Anna Sherburn, Saifuddin Abdullah, Nadzirah Osman (Deputy Secretary General of Multilateral Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Malaysia)

"The government administration is committed to an open sky policy, (although) we understand that there is a need for internet governing. For the moment our position is to concentrate on giving out the narrative; prevention and counter narrative," he says.

"We have to learn how to live with the internet and social media.  We need to intensify our campaign, explanation, and narrative. No matter how you try to control it (social media),  there is always be a new technology, life is about outdoing others." He added.

Malaysia government is collaborating with other organizations within the region, globally in preventing and countering terrorism.

The overarching theme of the conference is the prevention of violent extremism with a central focus on youths, attended by 60 participants youths from Bangladesh, Brunei, India, Malaysia, Pakistan, Singapore, and Sri Lanka.

"Through this conference the young people will learn many critical skills on how to foster dialogue and discussion work with the community, to build peace, " Anna Sherburn, the Deputy Head of the Countering Violent Extremism Unit Commonwealth Secretariat said.

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