“Fake news law could be used to silence critics of 1MDB”

Voon Shiak Ni

KUCHING, March 25: Another Opposition leader here has questioned the government’s motive for proposing the Anti-Fake News law which could be easily abused to silence debate on certain issues.

PKR national women’s vice-chief and Pakatan Harapan National Women Chief for Sarawak Affairs Voon Shiak Ni today asked whether the purported scope of the anti-fake news law is meant to include all scandal ridden 1MDB related issues.

In a press statement today, Voon pointed out that freedom of expression and speech, human rights and public interest could be compromised if such a bill were to be passed.

Voon was referring to Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said’s statement that the cabinet has approved the draft of a proposed law against fake news, with the first reading of the Bill tabled today in Parliament.

The ministry stated that the genuine purpose of the Anti-Fake News Bill was drafted in line with public interest with the intention of protecting national security and harmony in the country by curbing the circulation of fake news.

“But how can it serve public interest if the purported fake news was meant to include all scandal-ridden 1MBD related issues?” asked Voon.

The Communications and Multimedia Ministry had confirmed that fake news include those in relation to the 1MBD scandal, in which Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak is implicated and that stern action will be taken against those circulating and spreading the news on social media .

“I cannot help but to believe that the Anti-Fake News law will add to the list of repressive laws in Malaysia to silence critics and voices of civil societies who speak up against corrupt and malpractices of the failed systems under the ruling government,” said Voon.

“To add to the worrying concern of how this bill can prejudice public interest is the lack of definition pertaining to the extent of the application of the bill and the lack of guidelines and transparency in the interpretation of the bill; thus, it can be easily abused,” she added.

She said the bill, once passed, can accord the ruling powers extensive powers to use the bill to suppress information and this is not right and violates democracy. She urged the government to withdraw the bill. — DayakDaily