BN senator Khairul Azwan Harun said today that the opposition bench blocked Putrajaya's bid to repeal the Anti-Fake News Act 2018 because they believed that the law should be improved rather than abolished.
"I understand that this is a very unpopular law, but we must also recognise that we live in world of fast information," he said in a statement.
The bill to repeal the law was defeated today in the Dewan Negara, in a 28 to 21 vote, marking the first time that the Dewan Negara had ever defeated a bill brought by the Dewan Rakyat.
Khairul Azwan said the law was still relevant as even the US elections could be compromised by fake news and the Act targeted misinformation.
"The threat is real and I fear our political landscape is too young to be further polarised because of fake news. The basics of democracy, debate and dialogue all depend on commonly accepted facts. And that is what we want to protect.
"This Senate does not oppose for the sake of slowing down the new government. After all, we were the ones who allowed the sales and service tax to pass.
"This anti-fake news law should be a protection for the common man, against interests, either local or foreign, that aim to embroil our society in endless, unproductive confrontation," he said.
When contacted later, Khairul Azwan said even Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad had been a victim of "fake news", citing an image which had been made to look like a legitimate news article.
Last month, the opposition-controlled senate had allowed the passage of the laws relating to the SST and a supplementary supply bill.
At the time, it was argued that the Federal Constitution allowed for "money bills" to be passed even without the Dewan Negara's consent.
However, Article 68 of the Federal Constitution stipulates that "non-money bills" can still be passed without Dewan Negara's approval, but only a year after it being passed by the Dewan Rakyat for the first time.
Meanwhile, lawyer Syahredzan Johan, political secretary to DAP supremo Lim Kit Siang, tweeted his criticism of the opposition's move to block the Act's repeal.
"Proof that the opposition will delay the reform process. Fulfiling Pakatan Harapan's manifesto promises requires more than just passing bills through the Dewan Rakyat,” he said.