Netizens demand action against controversial Pro-Israeli political online influencer Ian Miles Cheong

KUALA LUMPUR: Western and Malaysian online communities are outraged over an Ipoh-based political influencer accused of disseminating divisive and controversial content on X (formerly Twitter).

The influencer, Ian Miles Cheong, affiliated with Rebel News, a right-leaning, pro-Israeli Canadian news organisation, is a Malaysian who purportedly has never visited the United States or Canada.

Despite this, Cheong has been deeply engaged in American and European political discourse online for years, garnering attention from high-profile followers, including Elon Musk.

Yet, Cheong has conspicuously avoided commenting on Malaysian politics, despite his presence on significant mainstream media platforms in the US including Fox News.

A quick check around Cheong's online socials found that he has more than 900,000 followers on X, with a majority of his posts and reposts involving right-leaning content on American politics.

Censored Man, an American twitter page on X, claimed that Cheong is an online troll with an alledged record of engaging in various illegal activities, including doxxing, submitting false police reports, exploiting moderator privileges for profit, and fabricating false allegations of rape, murder, and fake news to serve his own interests.

In an X post, Censored Man suggested that Cheong's actions were motivated by monetary benefits.

"Simple. He dreads having his 900,000 followers know that he resides in Malaysia. He knows that alone can kill his online activity.

"It pays to speak about the west. He wants the English speaking western audience.

"He can sit there in Malaysia, a country in the Eastern hemisphere, and post divisive content and political content that has literally no effect on him. It's the perfect gig," detailed the post, which has gained over 6,000 reposts and 30,000 likes.

Meanwhile, Malaysian netizens have called for Communications Minister Fahmi Fadzil to take action against Cheong for his actions, particularly on his commentary on Palestinian-Israeli issues.

In a comment on X on Oct 7 last year, Cheong vehemently expressed his support of Israel.

"I have always supported Israel's rights to exist. What you're seeing now in Israel would happen everyday if not for the Israeli Defence Force (IDF). Israel has a right to exist and a right to defend it self," he said.

Malaysian X user, @chairmanGLC said the government should take legal action against Cheong under the Sedition Act.

However, counterterrorism and extremism expert Munira Mustafa suggested that legal obstacles may hinder any action against Cheong.

"Legal blackholes can make it difficult to pursue Cheong with any litigations because of where he is.

Cheong and many foreign online trolls exploit this," she said in X.

For the record, Malaysians can be charged for sedition under the Seditions Act, for expressing views that could potentially sow discord among communities in the country.

The Palestinian-Israeli conflict holds significant interest in Malaysia, with the topic being sensitive for Malay Muslim audiences due to religious and humanitarian solidarity.

Furthermore, Malaysia's foreign policy explicitly rejects the recognition of Israel due to its aggressive actions towards Palestine and disregard for international law and order.

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