Anonymous letters, also known as surat layang, can resemble a source of information for enforcement agencies such as the Royal Brunei Police Force (RBPF), the Royal Customs and Excise Department, the Narcotics Control Bureau and the Anti-Corruption Bureau for hotspots especially during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This was explained by Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and Minister of Defence II Yang Berhormat Pehin Datu Lailaraja Major General (Rtd) Dato Paduka Seri Haji Awang Halbi bin Haji Mohd Yussof during yesterday’s Legislative Council (LegCo) session.
This was in response to a question by LegCo member Yang Berhormat Haji Abdul Aziz bin Haji Hamdan with regards to the issue of anonymous letters.
The minister earlier said the letters can be considered official complaints requiring appropriate action by certain agencies in the PMO. And if the correspondence is in regards to the service delivery of any government offices, it will be dealt with by the Management Services Department at the PMO.
“The department will investigate the content of the letters with relevant agencies. They will be taken seriously by the PMO to improve and further smoothen the government machinery,” he said.
The minister, however, emphasised on the accountability of individuals penning the letters as well as their contents, and that they are not accepted at face value without proper research into their validity.
If a letter is considered negative, malicious or slanderous with the aim of bringing an individual down, the matter can be directly reported to the police under a number of legal provisions such as Chapter 24 of the Sedition Act, Chapter 25 of the Undesirable Publication Act, Chapter 180 Broadcasting Act and Chapter 192 of the Defamation Act.
“Spreading fake news through such letters can cause defamation, bring down a person’s dignity and cause division, destruction of property and loss of life. Defamation and irresponsible actions must be avoided. And if found guilty, they will be judged and given appropriate punishment,” he warned.