The recent helicopter crash in Sarawak, in which six people, including two politicians, died was a tragedy in more ways than one.

It was not only an accident that resulted in the death of those onboard the ill-fated aircraft, but also brought out the worst in some people.

Minutes after news of the crash started filtering in, a flurry of messages and postings also started making rounds in WhatsApp groups and other social media sites.

A pack of morons started spreading tales about how the Airbus AS350 Ecureuil helicopter had actually been forced to make an emergency landing, and that everyone onboard was safe and sound.

These same nitwits found it funny to spread rumours that passengers of the helicopter had contacted their family members and friends to say that everything was okay.

Such messages soon became viral, resulting in conflicting news about what had actually happened to the helicopter that day being spread all over.

The confusion was only cleared after a senior police officer in Sarawak held a press conference later that night to confirm that air traffic controllers had lost contact with the helicopter hours earlier, and nothing had been heard of from the passengers or the pilot.

If the spreading of lies about the fate of those onboard the helicopter was not bad enough, a mind-boggling number of genetically-defective folk also found it amusing to post comments praying for certain people to be among those flying in the missing helicopter.

These sad groups took joy in the tragedy and found it cute to post all kinds of nasty comments about what had happened.

They had no concern whatsoever how the children, parents, family and friends of those missing would feel after reading their sick jokes and wishes for death to befall the passengers of the aircraft.

The unfortunate thing about what happened that day, and is happening frequently in the Malaysian social media scene, is that most of the postings showed how bitter, thoughtless and insensitive some people have become.

It also reflects the mentality of some people out there and makes you wonder about their scholastic achievements.

Most people nowadays think nothing of sending gory videos of accident scenes, crude postings and even porn, in chat groups without thinking about the appropriateness of it all.

And then, there is the mindless group — “social media criminals” I call them — who have no qualms of forwarding unverified messages, thinking they are doing everyone a favour by sending such postings.

There’s no mystery here. What it tells us is that there are some people out there who should be strangled in front of their parents.

It is little wonder that the social media scene in Malaysia is “thriving”, as Facebook Southeast Asia managing director Kenneth Bishop said recently.

He revealed there was a strong momentum in Malaysia with more than 18 million Facebook users and 6.5 million people on Instagram. It was also pointed out that Malaysian Facebook users are an active lot, and they have 60 per cent more friends than the global average.

Looks like Malaysians have no hesitation to accept “friend” requests, including from people living in far away places they don’t even know really exist.

At the same time, you can bet there will also be no love lost at every single opportunity they get to spread rumours, post half-truths, ridicule and condemn others — even at the most inappropriate of times, like when a tragedy strikes.

Talking about tragedies, the helicopter crash was not the only disaster for Malaysians that happened in the run-up to the Sarawak state election.

Two politicians from the peninsula used the campaign as an opportunity to spew racist and divisive statements by making disparaging comments about the different races in this country.

One, who is the top leader of a religious party, made it clear that only one particular ethnic group could ever rule Sarawak while the other — known as a “firebrand” speaker among his supporters — used crude and vulgar words against another community.

This happened even as people the world over are rejoicing to news about how Sadiq Khan, the son of a Pakistani immigrant bus driver, has beaten the odds to be elected as mayor in the capital city of a country that once colonised the land of his forefathers.

So, who can blame Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem when he sees it fit to bar many politicians from the peninsula from entering his state with their toxic brand of politics?

Sharanjit Singh is a veteran journalist who feels less talk and more action is needed to save planet earth from mankind

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