#Asia Pokemon no-GO? The battle between the Malaysian authorities and Pokemon GO gamers


Places of worships and schools have been turned into PokeStops and Pokemon Gyms, much to the dismay of the local authorities

Image Credit REUTERS

Image Credit: REUTERS

Son: Hey dad, can I get a ride to the mosque later?

Dad: Sure kiddo! You’ve never showed up at the mosque unless it’s Friday prayer.

Son: Uhh, yeah. I’m only going to catch some Pokemon there. Hope you don’t mind.

The conversation above was overheard about a week ago, when Pokemon GO was first launched in Malaysia. It has barely been a week and Pokemon Go has already amassed a lot of calls asking for the game to be banned (mostly for Muslims).

The calls were made after the mobile game turns places of worships, schools, public and private properties into a PokeStop or Pokemon Gym.

Also Read: How Pokémon Go trainers are changing the world, in stats

On Aug 10, the Kedah Fatwa Committee has ruled that the Pokemon Go game is haram (forbidden). The decision was made following a meeting held at the mufti’s office with 10 council members, as reported by The Straits Times. The committee thought Pokemon GO contains elements that could put the Muslims’ faith at risk, hence the ban.

Signboards that warn against playing the mobile game will soon be placed at mosques. Similarly in Penang, the famous St Anne’s Church has put up a ‘No Pokemon’ sign within the compound. Plenty of churches in Penang have been made into a PokeStop.

While Pokemon GO is banned in Kedah, Islamic authorities in other states have only warned against playing the game, citing the same reason.

Not everyone in the Islamic authority is against Pokemon GO. Perlis Mufti Dr Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin, deemed the voice of reason among the Muslim community in Malaysia, has made a public statement, saying that Malaysians should focus on other problematic issues affecting the nation like poor governance, instead of fighting over whether Pokemon GO is haram or not, according to a report by The Sun Daily.

Also Read: Servishero now offers Pokémon Go drivers in Singapore

In the report, Asri said that while there’s a need to control one’s obsession with the game, Malaysians shouldn’t be too engrossed with discussing whether Pokemon GO should be banned to the point of ignoring other grave issues that require urgent attention, such as corruption.

The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) has recently issued safety guidelines for Pokemon GO players. The guideline also stated that those who have questions or are concerned about safety and privacy matters regarding the game may contact the developer directly at NianticLabs.

Those who wish to lodge a report regarding PokeStop or Pokemon Gym can do so at this link.

So far, there’s no penalty for those playing the game in Malaysia, but a fine of RM300 (US$74) will be imposed if players are caught playing Pokemon GO while driving.

Image Credit: REUTERS

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