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LIVE: After trading insults, MPs pray for each other

Malaysiakini Team  |  Published:  |  Modified:

LIVE | The Dewan Rakyat debate on the contentious Anti-Fake News Bill 2018 is underway. LIVE updates follow: 

5.30pm: Speaker adjourns the Dewan Rakyat session. Debates will continue on Monday. 

5.20pm: Dr Noor Azmi Ghazali (BN-Bagan Serai) likens critics of the bill to people without religion who have no qualms sinning and telling lies.

"There is no religion that allows lying," he says.

The following debator, Hanipa Maidin (Amanah-Sepang), says existing laws was sufficient to counter fake news, including options to seek compensation through filing of a defamation suit.

“I have personally handled many defamation cases…,” he says.

Azeez Abdul Rahim (BN-Baling) interjects and says Hanipa should prepare to defend Muhyiddin, once again alluding to the Bersatu president’s alleged affair.

The two got into a war of words, calling each other stupid, and at one point both of them were seen raising their hands and praying for each other to repent for alleged sins.

Hanipa then got into another war of word with Khairuddin Aman Razali (PAS-Kuala Nerus) who urged him to repent for allegedly trying to “play God” in wishing ill upon Baling.

5.00pm: Noor Ehsanuddin Mohd Harun Narrashid (BN-Kota Tinggi) cites Massachusetts Institute of Technology research, which apparently took 12 years, that "fake news" will reach audiences six times faster than "real news".

The same research also claims that "fake news" will reach a group of people 20 times faster and is three times more attractive to readers than "real news". 

Political news, he says, makes up most of the "fake news".

Therefore, he said that Anti-Fake News Act is needed so that all politicians in this chamber will be protected from fake news.

He likens "fake news" to a serial killer who, if left unchecked, can turn into a mass murderer.

4.30pm: Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail (PKR-Permatang Pauh), the third debater, says the definition of "fake news" under the bill is too broad and far-reaching.

She says that she and her husband Anwar Ibrahim have been victims of "fake news" before by government-friendly media organisations.

"What happens if the government is the one spreading fake news? It happened to us before," she says.

Pointing to an ongoing defamation suit against Malaysian Communication and Multimedia Commission chief operating officer Mazlan Ismail, Wan Azizah says there is no guarantee that even government officers won't spread "fake news".

She adds that there were also no guarantees that the law will not be used to curb dissent.

"We are faced with a law as draconian as the ISA," she says, in reference to the defunct Internal Security Act - a preventive detention law.

4.00pm: Bung Mokhtar Radin (BN-Kinabatangan) is the first debater for the government.

He says the new legislation is timely and claims that only those who habitually perpetuate fake news will oppose it.

“I hope this law will be used against those who perpetuates fake news, does not matter who they are,” he says.

Bung Moktar points to countries such as Singapore which, according to him, has similar legislations and are not afraid to use it against those who share fake news.

Othman Abdul (BN-Pendang) interjects and takes a jab at Muhyiddin.

“Pagoh can even clear his name from allegations of scandal with a woman,” he says.

3.35pm: Tajuddin Abdul Rahman (BN-Pasir Salak) interjects Muhyiddin's speech and poses a question about jurisdiction.

“I would like to ask, Malaysia is operating under which law? Do we want to use our own laws or the laws of another country?

“Let the law takes it course in Malaysia to determine whether the case is true or not. We are Malaysian. The law of the country governs us,” says Tajuddin.

After enduring heckling from the opposition bench, Tajuddin loses his cool, yells: “Go to hell with you!”

3.30pm: Muhyiddin Yassin (Bersatu-Pagoh), the first MP to speak, asks how will "fake news" would be defined as it was left vague in the bill. 

Citing the 1MDB affair as an example, he asks whether Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak or the Wall Street Journal's report on the matter is "fake news". 

"I would like to refer to example of the RM2.6 billion that was said to have been banked in into prime minister's account. When I still in Umno, I asked Najib where the money came from and he replied that it was from Saudi donors.

"But after that, many media organisations such as WSJ and also (US Department of Justice) have published reports that the money came from 1MDB instead of Saudi donors.

"I read statement of Communications and Multimedia Minister Salleh Said Keruak, he said that it (DOJ report) is not fake news. Thus, in this case, how is the AFN act going to be used? Which is fake news and which is true news?

"Is prime minister's claim that the money was from Saudi donors or DOJ report, fake news?" asked Muhiddyin.

He also asks if someone published material on the DOJ report, which contradicted what the prime minister says, will that be an offence under the new law.

3.15pm: Azalina tells the House that several amendments to the bill will be made during the debate at committee stage.

Among others, she says the word "knowingly" to define an offence under Section 4 of the draft Bill will be replaced with the word "maliciously".

She also says the maximum jail term in the bill has also been reduced from to six years, down from 10, while the proposed fine of up to RM500,000 will be maintained.

"This shows that the government is very concerned to make this a comprehensive and inclusive law," she says.

2.45pm: Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Azalina Othman Said tables the draft Anti-Fake News Bill 2018 for second reading.

She reiterates Putrajaya's stand that existing laws which include the Sedition Act 1948 and the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 is inadequate to address problems caused by fake news.

Among others, Azalina cites several examples of fake news following the disappearance of MH370 and how it causes distress to the family members.

She also cites examples of fake news on McDonald's Quarter Pounder burgers being tainted with pork meat.

Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Azalina Othman Said has tabled the controversial Anti-Fake News Bill 2018 for second reading in the Dewan Rakyat amid concerns that its provisions are too broad and threaten freedom of expression.

Among others, journalists' groups said the Bill’s wide-ranging powers will further stifle the media due to the heavy penalties imposed on sources, publishers and funders, plus its capacity to force media organisations to remove articles through ex-parte court applications.

Putrajaya has defended the new law on the grounds that it was drafted to safeguard national interests as well as to protect victims of fake news.

Communications and Multimedia Minister Salleh Said Keruak has denied that the anti-fake news law is aimed at silencing debate on the 1MDB scandal.

However, he said the law will tackle false claims made with regard to the scandal.

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