De facto law minister Liew Vui Keong has denied the claim by a former BN minister that the Pakatan Harapan government was rushing to abolish the Anti-Fake News Act (AFN) despite having only been passed four months ago, stating that problem lay in the formulation of the law.
"The reality is the formulation of Act 803 (AFN), during the administration of the previous government, was rushed without comprehensive consultation and discussion with all stakeholders.
"The formulation of the Act received opposition from numerous quarters, especially from the media. and it received negative reaction from the public," Liew said in a statement today.
The minister in the Prime Minister's Department was responding to the statement sent by Azalina Othman Said on Thursday which stated that the present government was being short-sighted in its insistence on abolishing the controversial act.
Azalina, who is also Pengerang MP, claimed that other existing related laws - such as the Penal Code, Printing Presses and Publications Act and Communications and Multimedia Commission Act - were not up to date with current technological advances which, in turn, was being used to abet the dissemination of fake news.
Countering this, Liew stated that the government was satisfied that the other existing laws were adequate and that more efficient enforcement of said laws would be able to handle the problem of fake news.
"The abolishing of the Act is in line with the wishes of the government to ensure the media has the freedom to carry out the process of check and balance in regard to the government's administration, and accord the rakyat freedom to voice out, (as long as) bound by the existing laws," he said.
Liew had tabled a bill at the Dewan Rakyat on Wednesday, to repeal the AFN.
Critics had accused the previous BN-led government of rushing the law through Parliament without consulting the necessary stakeholders before it was passed in April.
Opposition members and rights groups criticised the Act over the vague definition of "fake news" and its stiff penalties, arguing that it could be used to curb press freedom and stifle dissent.