Former Ambassador-at-Large Bilahari Kausikan has fallen for untrue news by a website that openly propagates fake news. The retired diplomat shared an article by parody news site, The Tapir Times, this evening.
The article claimed that Bersatu vowed to only accept Umno MPs who have less than 10 pending criminal charges. Unaware that the article is fake news, the academic shared the article on his Facebook page with the caption, “How ironic — ‘less than 10 criminal charges’!”
It is rather curious that the academic did not detect that the article is a work of fiction since the website bears several signs that it is a parody or troll news site.
For example, the website shows on every page, including the page that Bilahari shared, that today’s weather is “Hot Then Rain”. The website also posts fictitious articles with headlines like “MP Who Suffered Minor Stroke Denies Stroking Minor,” or “Dealers Accuse Proton Of Acting Like A Business,” to name a few.
If that wasn’t enough, the Tapir Times features this disclaimer at the bottom of every article, including the one Bilahari shared: “The Tapir Times is a silly work of satire and fiction. It should not be taken seriously by anyone.”
The Malaysian website’s administrators add in their ‘About Us’ page: “If we fooled you for a few seconds we’re sorry, but this website shouldn’t be taken seriously by anyone.”
Bilahari’s Facebook share has received over 120 reactions on Facebook in just two hours. Despite the efforts of multiple netizens, who flagged that the Tapir Times as a parody news site, the article remains up on Bilahari’s Facebook page, without a clarification or correction.
It must be noted that Bilahari is the same academic who said that “Singaporeans are naive” about threats like fake news, just three months ago.
The former civil servant went on to call deliberate online falsehoods “a fundamental national security issue” as he concluded that “The best defense is an educated public.”