COMMENT | Early this week, the Anti-Fake News Bill 2018 was passed in Parliament after several days of debate. We all know what Azalina Othman Said, the minister who initiated the Bill, has said about it. It is supposed to curb the creation and spread of fake news so that the people won’t be misled.
However, the implicit reasons for the Bill isn’t that implicit. The definition of the fake news under the Bill is quite loose and it gives a lot of leeway for the authorities to define what is fake news. It is always suspicious when a Bill or Act doesn’t define a crime and instead leaves the definition to the authorities.
Many allies have defended the Bill. One big defender of it is Minister of Communications and Multimedia Salleh Said Keruak. He has been very vocal about how this is a responsible move by the government and how this will contribute positively to the development of the media in the country.
But this is expected. Salleh is a politician, and if you see his rise in his career, it follows a pattern of apple polishing and saying yes to the right people at the right time. I guess that is the price we Malaysians have to pay when we have been relying on professional politicians to run our country for so long.
What is shocking is to see journalists who have been working in the industry for decades also supporting the Bill. Two days ago, Bernama reported that the head of the National Communication Team in the Prime Minister’s Office, Abdul Rahman Sulaiman, voicing his approval on the passing of the Bill.
Abdul Rahman is a veteran journalist who started his career as a broadcast journalist at Radio Televisyen Malaysia (RTM) and then moved to Bernama. He had an illustrious career at the news agency and eventually retired as the editor-in-chief. One could assume that his appointment to the PM’s Office was to advise the government on matters involving the media.
So what happened...