BAU, March 28: Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak Baru (PBDSB) says the introduction of the Anti-Fake News Bill 2018 is solely for the purpose of allowing ruling coalition Barisan Nasional (BN) to fully control news dissemination in Malaysia.
Its PBDSB women’s wing chief Sylvia John Gemok said in a statement today that the Bill was not meant to regulate the abuse or misuse of social media but to protect the interests of the ruling government by controlling the spread of news which put them in a bad light, such as the 1MDB case.
“If we are not worried, why would we want to introduce the Bill to control the people from spreading the truth? According to the Bill, I believe even the sharing of ‘news’ may also be subject to a maximum fine of RM500,000 or a maximum imprisonment of 10 years or both,” she said.
She said the Bill also allowed the police to arrest without a warrant and this was not fair to Malaysians.
“To me, the government is taking advantage of the opportunity to introduce the Bill and this is against basic human rights,” said Sylvia.
She was responding to the statement made by Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) vice-president Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah, which she said was “wishy-washy”.
Abdul Karim said that the passing of the Bill would prevent misuse of social media by “unscrupulous individuals or organisation” to intentionally spread untrue and fake news.
Abdul Karim who is also Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Minister further pointed out that some form of curbing fake news was necessary because these days, it was easy to disseminate news through social media.
“The BN government headed by Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak is fearful of the rise of social media like Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, blogs and websites in bringing down the BN government in the upcoming 14th General Election.
“Therefore, the UMNO-BN government will try all means to win this election and this will be the most dirty election in Malaysia’s history,” Sylvia predicted.
Sylvia also took the opportunity to thank PBDSB’s Supreme Council for having confidence in her to lead the party’s women’s wing.
She pledged to continue to champion Dayak women’s rights alongside other races in Malaysia especially Sarawak as well as Sarawak’s lost rights as enshrined under the Malaysian Agreement 1963.
The Anti-Fake News Bill 2018 was tabled in Parliament for its first reading on Monday.
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 of up to 10 years or both.
In addition, anyone who is found to be providing financial assistance in facilitating the offence will also be receiving the same punishment.
Meanwhile, any person who fails to remove fake news is also liable to a fine of up to RM100,000. Continuous offence after conviction will further incur a fine of up to RM3,000 per day. — DayakDaily