Twitter was set ablaze with frenzied #PrayForJoe activity yesterday when news emerged that a 26-year-old unemployed man was charged under Malaysia’s Communications and Multimedia Act (CMA) 1998 for insulting Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak on Twitter and subsequently arrested on Wednesday night (27th July) after failing to show up in court.
Mohamad Ariff Fadila Arbain, who allegedly posted an insult to Najib Razak on Twitter on 1st December 2015, was charged under Section 233(1)(a) of CMA for improper use of network facilities and can be punished under Section 233(3) of the same Act for the offence.
— Pizzo cemboi (@pvckingpizza) July 28, 2016
He was arrested in Sri Petaling after he failed to show up at the Alor Setar Sessions Court the 3rd time to be formally charged, MMO reported, citing Mohamad Ariff’s lawyer Faridah Mohammad.
It is understood that he couldn’t attend the court the first time as he was working in Pahang or the second time because he wasn’t at home. His lawyer added that Mohamad Ariff had his statement taken by the police before although she was unsure the exact date and time. If convicted, the 26-year-old can be fined no more than RM50,000 or jailed up to one year or both.
Hours after his arrest, he took to his Twitter, @SangAlgojoe, to update his 4,487 followers on his whereabouts:
Mohamad Ariff’s Twitter account has since been taken over by his friend. His friend detailed the arrest in a series of updates.
According to his friend’s tweets, Mohamad Ariff’s arrest happened at Mamak Mirasaa in Sri Petaling after he was contacted by someone via a direct message (DM) on Twitter asking for help in cracking (jailbreaking?) a mobile phone. With the intention to help said person, Mohamad Ariff then revealed his location and that’s when the arrest was made.
His friend then started asking netizens to donate RM1 each to release Mohamad Ariff.
“Again I would like to emphasise, I am not asking anyone to turn against the government or finding whose fault. That is not my intention. I am looking at the best possible way to bring Joe out from the prison and making sure he been given as much help as possible. I am not interested to soak my feet in political issues. I am concentrating on obtaining crowdfunding to free Joe,” his friend wrote.
The “campaign” utilised the hashtag #PrayForJoe, which quickly became the 4th most popular trending topic on Twitter yesterday (Thursday, 28th July). Scores of people have responded to #PrayForJoe, with many urging Mohamad Ariff to keep calm and stay strong.
Mohamad Ariff’s bail has been set at RM7,000 and his next court mention is on 19th September. As at time of writing, the amount sourced from the #PrayForJoe crowdfunding has reached a total RM4,283, not inclusive of transfers from banks other than CIMB.