Freedom of speech on social media in Malaysia

Putri Azizuhainee Binti Mohd Khalid

Social media have changed our capacity to interface across noteworthy social, political and geographic partitions. Where beforehand there are gatekeepers and arranged admittance to broad communications stages, today possibly anybody – and any substance – can arrive at a large number of people in a moment. “Notwithstanding the new media, the rise of social media is likewise seen as upgrading the intuitive level by giving the client the opportunity to pick the wellspring of data and diversion wanted”, (Ali Salman, Mohd Azul Yusoff, Mohammad Agus Mohamad Salleh & Mohd Yusof Abdullah, 2018). At the same time, social media allow people to exercise their freedom of speech which enable all people, the right to speak their mind and write down ideas without fear of condemnation. Besides that, this advancement bears incredible chances for the democratization of articulation and the enhancement of public discussion. However, this advancement also widened the effect and damage caused by disinformation and scorn discourse.

According to Mohd Azizuddin (2008), “In Malaysia, freedom of speech is formally assured by Part II of the Federal Constitution under Article 10(1) entitled ‘Freedom of Speech, Assembly and Association’. Article 10(1) specifies that (a) each resident has the option to the right to speak freely of discourse and articulation; (b) all residents reserve the privilege to amass serenely and without arms; and (c) all residents reserve the option to frame affiliations”. Nonetheless, in spite of the fact that citizens are given the privilege to speak freely, Section 2 of the Article limits the right where Parliament may by law force limitations where there are significant or legitimate concern for public security, Parliament or the Legislative Gathering. (Comber, 1983; Federal Constitution, 1999) as cited by Mohd Azizuddin (2008).

Mohd Hamdan (2015) mentioned that “Freedom of speech in social media makes the youth more willing to use the medium than other media”. This is due to its entrancing highlights and the opportunity of sharing videos, pictures and status make the online media applications much all the more engaging the users. One example which we can observe in Malaysia in regards to social media usage is during the 14th General Elections where Facebook and Whatsapp became a medium in providing political messages and data to win the hearts and minds of voters. Everyone had the ability and courage to voice their opinions on these platforms freely, to the extent of giving less consideration on the perverse effects it could have, contributing to cases of hate speech. However, the Malaysian government has clearly utilized the laws to fortify its capacity, to limit resistance and to control public opinion. Albeit many would agree that racial harmony, civil order, and political steadiness are consistently the primary objectives of the multiracial society in Malaysia, there is no explanation that genuine political speech, which is a basis for any government, ought to be forfeited in accomplishing those objectives.


Comber, L. (1983). 13 May 1969: A Historical Survey of Sino-Malay Relations. Kuala Lumpur: Heinemann Asia

Mohd Azizuddin Mohd Sani (2008) Freedom of Speech and Democracy in Malaysia, Asian Journal of Political Science, 16:1, 85-104

Mohd Hamdan Haji Adnan. (2015). Peranan media massa memartabatkan integriti Nasional. Jurnal Komunikasi Borneo, 2.

Salman, A., Yusoff, M. A., Mohamad Salleh, M. A., & Abdullah, M. Y. (2018). Political engagement on social media as antecedent for political support among voters in Malaysia. Jurnal Komunikasi, Malaysian Journal of Communication, 34(2), 152-165.

The Federal Constitution (1999). Laws Research Board (Comp.), 1 January. Kuala Lumpur: International Law Book Services.

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