Masing: The courts should determine whether news is false

Tan Sri Dr James Masing

KUCHING, March 27: Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr James Jemut Masing says the courts should be the authority which judge whether news is fake.

He said it should not be the government of the day which passes such a judgment.

“Fake news amounts to lying and the freedom of speech doesn’t mean freedom to lie or freedom to slander our neighbours at will,” said Masing in a statement yesterday.

He was responding to the Anti-Fake News Bill 2018 which was tabled in Parliament for its first reading yesterday.

Once the Bill is passed, anyone found to be “knowingly creating, offering, publishing, printing, distributing, circulating or disseminating” any fake news or publication will be fined up to RM500,000 or face imprisonment up to 10 years or both.

In addition, anyone who is found to be providing financial assistance in facilitating the offence will also be subjected to the same punishment.

Meanwhile, any person who fails to remove fake news is also liable to a fine up to RM100,000. Continuous offence after conviction is a further fine up to RM3,000 per day.

Masing said the main issue with the Bill was who should be the authority to determine the authenticity of news.

“The question we should ask is who decides whether news is fake or not? To me, it is the court and not the government of the day,” said Masing, who is also Infrastructure Development and Transportation Minister. — DayakDaily