As police continue its probe into the weekend brawl at the Low Yat Plaza in Kuala Lumpur over a mobile phone, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak stressed that the incident should not be seen through a racial lens.
He said it was a criminal action and not a racial problem, as alleged by some in social media.
"I want to stress that in instances such as these, normally, it will be looked at from a racial perspective.
"It is a criminal act but in the end it become a racial incident. Such things should not have happened in our country," he said after distributing aid to about 300 homeless people in Kuala Lumpur this evening.
Najib said he had asked the Inspector-General of Police to take effective action to prevent such incidents from recurring.
He said the incident should be left to the police to investigate, warning that stern action would be taken against those who broke the law.
Slamming the actions of those who irresponsibly use social media to spread wrong information on the incident, Najib suggested that it was time to tighten laws governing social media.
"We have social media freedom but there are problems because in this matter, it is too free. This is something that should be reviewed deeply," he said in reply to a question whether the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission was slow in preventing wrong information of the incident from being disseminated online.
He said people should not fully believe what is uploaded on social media and should instead check facts.
He also advised people not to have a mob mentality and act emotionally.
"It is irresponsible to use social media to inflame the situation and give a wrong impression on what's happening.
"There were pictures uploaded that has nothing to do with the situation," he said, and advised people to remain calm to let the police investigate the matter.
Federal Territories Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor said it was unbecoming of Malaysians to act in such a rowdy manner.
He said the shop owners should have contacted either the police and security guards to apprehend the suspect, while the suspects should not round up their friends for revenge.
The drama at Low Yat Plaza began on Saturday when it was reported that a youth had visited one of the shops to buy a Lenovo S860 phone worth RM799.
The salesman who attended to the man reportedly said that the youth ran off with the phone as he turned away to get a free gift.
A chase ensued and mobile phone dealers in another shop caught the suspect, assaulted him and handed him over to the police.
However, the suspected thief's friends later barged into the plaza and attacked the store where the employees had helped detain the suspect.
Yesterday evening, some 200 people congregated at the plaza, forcing authorities to order the businesses at the premises to close early.
Police cordoned off the area but a crowd gathered again after midnight and fights broke out, where helmets and other items were thrown between rival groups.
Several people, including media personnel were reportedly injured in the incident.
So far, 19 people, including the two who committed the theft, have been detained to facilitate investigations.
Police also said they intend to arrest the blogger known as Papagomo, among others, for publishing false information on the incident. – July 13, 2015.
The Malaysian Insider