LAST_UPDATEMon, 16 Jul 2018 8pm

The Infamous Chow Kit Shooting In 1987 Is A Classic Example Of How Fake News Can Be Damaging To The Country

UMNO information chief Tan Sri Annuar Musa said the uncontrolled spreading of fake news can be detrimental to the nation.

It is even prohibited in Islam for the religion’s followers to spread such news, or fitnah, as the sin for committing fitnah is worse than murder.

He explained that Muslims should be aware and mindful of any news or information that have been sent to them, especially news that came from questionable sources for fear that the spreading of the news could lead to regretful actions.

The UMNO politician cited a classic example of how misinformation and fake legends regarding the Chow Kit shooting case in 1987 still lingers with Malaysians today.

“Let me recall the case of Private Adam Jaafar who went amok with an assault rifle in Kuala Lumpur three decades ago.

“All this time, we have heard that Private Adam were enraged over the death of his brother after he was striked on the head with a golf club by the late Johor sultan, and that story is still believed by most Malaysians today,” he said in a speech during an ‘Anda Tanya Kita Jawab’ public forum organised by UMNO at the Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC) on Wednesday.

According to the urban legend, Sultan Iskandar Ibni Almarhum Sultan Ismail of Johor killed Adam’s brother, who was a golf caddy, for laughing after the former missed a shot.

After learning of his brother’s death, Private Adam stole an M16 rifle and a motorcycle from his army camp in Ipoh, and traveled to Kuala Lumpur.

On October 17 1987, the 23-year-old soldier opened fire at the streets of Chow Kit, resulting in the death of one person and wounding several others.

Gen (ret) Datuk Abdul Ghani Abdullah later persuaded Private Adam to surrender.Gen (ret) Datuk Abdul Ghani Abdullah later persuaded Private Adam to surrender.

Even without the internet, that story spread among Malaysians like wildfire, and many Malaysians still hold belief to the story.

“However, after a former journalist made a detailed investigation towards the issue and interviewed Private Adam himself who lived in the northern region, it turned out that the rumours that we believed all this time were unfounded and completely fabricated.

“According to my friend who met Private Adam to get a first-hand account of the tragedy, the man himself refuted the claims that he went on a shooting spree after he was mad at the Johor Sultan for killing his brother.

“As a matter of fact, he did have a younger sibling, but it was a sister and she died much earlier from a fire when she was still young.

“It was then I realised that all the stories I have heard that caused him to go amok was false. Dear God, this story has been going on for decades and how sinful have we become for believing such a false story decades after it happened,” he said.

Last year, author Syahril A. Kadir released a book Konfesi Prebet Adam, in which he revisited what truly happened during that fateful day. It included interviews with Private Adam himself, his lawyer, and the military officer who persuaded Adam to stand down.

Tan Sri Annuar then explained that the urban legend was utilised by Tun Dr Mahathir, who was the Prime Minister at the time, to curb the powers of the Malay Rulers.

“The Private Adam case was deliberately used by Dr Mahathir to curb the power of our Rulers.

“Even today, he knows very well that 1MDB’s money has not vanished. However, he resorts to extreme methods to grab the attention of the people by accusing the Prime Minister of stealing 1MDB’s money.

“He uses this method [of fake news] to influence the people and create a false perception towards the government. Once that perception is solidified in the people’s minds, Dr Mahathir will keep repeating that fake news during his speeches or media statements,” he explained, as reported by UMNO Online.

With the enactment of the anti-fake news bill, Tan Sri Annuar hopes that the people will be more responsible in handling misinformation than before.

-- mD