Dr Sim: Fake news law important for social media, Internet

KDJA chairwoman Jacqueline David (fifth right) along with her vice-chairman Edmund Chang (fourth right) present a memento of appreciation to Dr Sim while other invited VIPs look on.

KUCHING, March 31: With the Anti-Fake News Bill tabled and being debated in the current Parliament sitting, journalists have been asked to maintain their credibility and the highest standards to be the most reliable source of news and information.

Local Government and Housing Minister Datuk Dr Sim Kui Hian said in today’s digital world, certified journalists especially those in the traditional mediums, are facing challenges such as disruptive technologies like social media, and ‘citizen reporters’.

Speaking to hundreds of journalists and editors during the Kuching Division Journalists’ Association (KDJA) Annual Dinner at a hotel here on Friday, he said fake information and news being viraled on social media by unverified sources could spread faster and be made more easily accessible to the masses.

KDJA members and invited guests are seen posing for a photo-call during the annual dinner.

“Fake news has been circulating around a lot on social media. Singapore also enforces its anti-fake news law. A lot of other countries also have some kind of anti-fake news law in one way or another. Of course in our Parliament now, it (Anti-Fake News Bill) has been tabled for a second review and is still being debated at the moment.

“I’m looking forward to joining the debate because I think it is a very important law not only for the politicians and the government, but also for individuals. Can you imagine if your friends go and spread fake news about you on social media, and the impact it could bring to affected companies? That is why in this day and age if we don’t have this kind of law… let’s say I say something fake here and you write and publish it, I can be sued and so on.

“But if I were to say it on social media and viral it, I can get away scot-free. That is not right because of double standards.

“I think that law is very important. We may need time to think about it and not rush it, but the basic principle is we appreciate freedom of speech but do not abuse it, and (practise) no double standards no matter how it (fake news) is being spread,” Dr Sim said.

He also advised KDJA members to continue improving and upgrading themselves not only in terms of quality, but also so they are able to keep up with the most current technology particularly digital technology. — DayakDaily