Anti-Fake News Bill could be abused to silence critics, says Yii

KUCHING, March 26: The proposed Anti-Fake News Bill 2018 is a regressive law to silence dissenting voices in view of looming general elections, says DAP candidate for Stampin parliamentary seat Dr Kelvin Yii.

Urging Members of Parliament especially those from Sarawak to object to the bill which was tabled in Parliament today for its first reading, Yii said the proposed law would infringe the rights and freedom of speech and expression that is guaranteed under the Federal Constitution as well as rights intended by our forefathers here in Sarawak.

“The Anti-Fake News law is clearly a regressive law which seeks to regress Malaysia into an age of democratic narrowness and information darkness just so that they can determine what is truth based on political gains or personal interest. Their aim is also to instill fear into the people not to question the powers that at be,” he said in a statement today.

Yii, who is also special assistant to Bandar Kuching MP Chong Chieng Jen, stressed that there are already relevant laws including laws on defamation and the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission Act that is adequate to deal with the spread of fake news.

“While we are for the fight against fake news, we are against any legislation created purely to be used by the ruling government to control the dissemination of news especially those that makes them uncomfortable or threatens their position in a democratic society.”

He also questioned the drafting of such a bill with so much secrecy and seemingly rushed through just for this coming election to stifle any dissenting voices.

Quoting the statement by Deputy Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Jailani Johari who reportedly said that “Any information related to 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) that has not been verified by the government is considered fake news”, Yii emphasised that the proposed legislation would be used in such a way as to pose a danger to the people.

“This clearly shows the one that determines the truth of a statement or news is the government and they have arbitrary powers to determine what is truth and what is not truth. This is clearly against the spirit of the freedom of speech and the rights of independent media.

“What if, when Barisan Nasional gains strong representation through the gerrymandering and other electoral fraud in the upcoming election, and decides that our fight for greater rights under MA63 (Malaysia Agreement 1963) is against their interpretation and interest? They can slap a fine of up to RM500,000 or 10 years of jail or both to us Sarawakians just for speaking up against injustice and oppression,” he added.

“What if there is corruption and abuse of power within the government in Sarawak and any whistleblower or member of the public that speaks about it gets arrested and thrown into jail even though matters raised are of public interest and public importance?” he questioned. — DayakDaily