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Anti-fake news law to protect national interests, says MCMC

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Putrajaya's proposed new law against fake news is part of its efforts to safeguard national interest, said the Malaysian Communication and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) chief operating officer Mazlan Ismail.

According to Berita Harian, he said this was contrary to claims by certain opposition leaders that the proposed law would protect the interests of certain individuals ahead of the forthcoming 14th general election.

"This law has nothing to do with the GE14. Do not make any speculations to prevent this law from being tabled and passed in Parliament because it is in the interest of the people.

"Fake news is like a 'time bomb' that could explode at any time. Not only in Malaysia, fake news is being shared around the world, and it is a threat.

"Other countries have already enacted similar laws. That is why before the law is tabled, the definition of fake news and the appropriate punishments should first be scrutinised," Mazlan (photo) said in an interview with the Malay daily.

Communications and Multimedia Minister Salleh Said Keruak had also previously insisted that the new law to curb fake news had been considered for some time, and was not proposed due to the GE14.

Harapan chairperson Dr Mahathir Mohamad said earlier this month said that Putrajaya's proposal for a new law against fake news was good, but he was also wary that it may be a guise to censor stories about the 1MDB scandal linked to Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak.

"Don't use it to censor articles or news about things that are true such as 1MDB and the RM2.6 billion (deposits in the prime minister's bank account) and others.

"These are not false, they are true. Separate the truth from what is described as false news. Don't use the law to cover up the truth," Mahathir had said in a video.

The video also featured Bersatu president Muhyiddin Yassin, who accused Umno and BN of being perpetrators of fake news.

Putrajaya had on Jan 30 announced the formation of a special committee to study legislative measures to curb the spread of fake news in the country.

DAP parliamentary leader Lim Kit Siang, however, said due to the membership of the present committee – comprising ministers, police personnel, the Attorney-General’s Chambers representatives, NGOs, and MPs – it would likely be "weaponised" by the government to persecute the opposition. 

He said Putrajaya should dissolve the committee and replace it with a bipartisan parliamentary select committee.


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