COMMENT | As though there are not enough draconian legislation in the country, Malaysia has now introduced a new anti-fake news law. By using their simple majority in Parliament with the ever-willing support of PAS, they managed to obtain majority support before it became law.
Despite one or two amendments, the law that was passed contains intact all the ferocious elements that will further render Malaysian society weak and compliant.
Unless, of course, societal forces are ready to challenge this and other draconian legislation that were passed in the past and that are basically anti-democratic and anti-people.
This anti-fake news law is like the proverbial Sword of Damocles that will hang over the heads of Malaysians for some time to come.
It is not so much the issue of enforcement or the infliction of the maximum punishment, but rather how the law will serve as a pernicious deterrent for those who intend to challenge the government of the day by spreading real news and information.
Besides the lingering fear of extreme punishment, the law is meant as a powerful deterrent to those who wish to question those in power on a wide variety of matters including mega-scandals and financial embezzlements in the past.
The law as a deterrent is intended to create fear, panic and anxiety among Malaysians leading to the imposition of self-censorship. This is the intended effect of the law.
Laws merely to safeguard those in power are primarily introduced to produce compliance to ensure that their exercise of political, economic and social power will continue uninterrupted.
There are good and progressive laws intended to regulate and manage society in the best possible terms. However, there are bad and obnoxious ones that are intended to keep certain cliques in power for a long time.
This anti-fake news law is another example of a terrible and ill-intentioned law meant to exercise undemocratic control over society. The present government in power intends to use this law along with others merely to stifle democratic dissent.
These draconian laws have the power to induce an artificial situation where the information dished out by the government of the day becomes the “real' one.
Thus, at the end of the day, the test of whether a news is fake or not will come to depend on the definition adopted by the government. Apart from the actual source of the information, there is no other source that can determine the authenticity of the news.
Under these circumstances, the government will emerge as the ultimate arbitrator of the "truth". If this happens, then our society is in big trouble.
The purpose of any law is merely for the reason of deterrence. To prevent something undesirable from happening. It is considered such as undesirable things might be injurious to society.
But in the case of the anti-fake news law, the purpose is to shield those in power from being exposed on a wide variety of matters. As they say, waiting to be killed is worse than to be killed itself.
This is precisely the main intention of this draconian anti-people and anti-democratic legislation that has been inappropriately termed as “anti-fake news law”.
Even a country like India has rejected the introduction of legislation on fake news so why has the Malaysian government under BN been in such a hurry?
Is there a genuine fear that this legislation is a last-ditch effort of the regime to protect itself before going to the coming polls?
Finally, it is assumed that it takes a certain degree of insincerity on the part of those in power to go for this so-called “anti-fake news law”.
P RAMASAMY is Penang deputy chief minister and Perai state assemblyperson.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.