Fahmi Tears Down Hamzah’s Reference Of Obscure Website Claiming Anwar Is “First Homosexual PM In An Islamic Country”
Other critics included political analyst Norman Goh who used the issue as an example of the need to fact-check claims and sources.
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Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainuddin (PN – Larut) is being heavily criticised after encouraging Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to sue an obscure Italian website for claiming the latter is the “first full-blown homosexual elected prime minister in an Islamic country“.
Among the more prominent critics of Hamzah were Communications and Digital Minister Ahmad Fahmi Mohamed Fadzil who shared that the website, Agenzia Nova, did not appear to be credible.
La, saya ingatkan website Hamzah Zainuddin petik ni level Bernama ke, BBC ke, New York Times ke.— Fahmi Fadzil 🇲🇾 (@fahmi_fadzil) December 19, 2022
Rupanya website entah apa-apa!! Nama wartawan yang tulis ‘artikel’ pun tak ada.
Jangan nak cuba scam, Hamzah! pic.twitter.com/K9RyQz5qXz
“It looks like a whatever website!! It doesn’t even name the journalists who write the “articles”,” tweeted Fahmi in Bahasa Malaysia.
In a later tweet, he shared a screenshot of a conversation with a person, claiming to have been in Italy for 33 years, who had not heard of Agenzia Nova.
Hati-hati Hamzah nak scam— Fahmi Fadzil 🇲🇾 (@fahmi_fadzil) December 20, 2022
Rupa2nya orang Italy pun tak pernah dengar nama ‘Agenzia Nova’ ni! pic.twitter.com/toGVDJm3P5
Political analyst and former independent journalist Norman Goh, in a Twitter thread, also highlighted Hamzah’s reference to an unknown media portal as an example of how dangerous it is to reference articles and claims without checking them first.
“It will lead to confusion, defamation and disinformation,” read one of the tweets in Norman’s thread.
He also pointed out that domain checks on Agenzia Nova did not identify the owner of the site, its editors and journalists are unnamed, and its socials pages have little engagement. All of these are red flags according to Norman.
Who is Agenzia Nova? Who runs it? Who are they? Why is there an interest of an obscure website in Italian on Malaysia?— Norman Goh (@imnormgoh) December 19, 2022
Checking its domain information, no identification about the owner or editors. No names of editors and journalists. Socials have little engagement.
Red flags. pic.twitter.com/Q3GJpQbIom
He also pointed out that such websites are frequently for-profit enterprises and are not actually intended to inform the public.
There are many websites paid to masquerade as a legitimate news outlet, more often than so, people fall into the trap believing that the articles were real.— Norman Goh (@imnormgoh) December 19, 2022
These fake news websites only serve a purpose – making false narrative for monetary purposes. They make money.
The Vibes also reports that access to the Agenzia Nova website appears to have been blocked by Malaysian telecommunications and internet service providers.
However, checks by TRP show that the site is still accessible via a virtual private network (VPN) and the organization’s LinkedIn page lists it as having 52 employees.
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TRP's Head of Editorial, Hamzah was formerly a hard-news journalist who reported on politics, did investigative work, and occasionally went undercover. He now spends his days sitting at a desk, checking grammar and fielding calls from PR companies, which is totally fine and fulfilling. For sure. He's also married with kids now so his wife and mother said he can't do risky things anymore.