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COMMENT | Fight against fake news starts with empowerment, not threats

COMMENT | The government’s latest emergency ordinance to quell the spread of fake news regarding Covid-19 has sparked an outcry across Malaysia for its chilling effects on freedom of speech.

While using a very broad and arbitrary definition of fake news, the ordinance also includes wording that allows the government to “destroy” media outlets that host such fake news and seeks punitive actions against organisations that provide “funding”.

If the government were infallible and without reproach, then this could be seen as acceptable, but no government in the history of the world has had this status and in Malaysia’s case, even less so.

Regulations such as this are often deliberately worded in an abstract fashion to allow authorities to target individuals or organisations for punitive reasons. One need not look further than the recent contempt ruling against Malaysiakini (for the content they did not publish) to see how such a law can be used to target the media or anyone who is willing to keep the authorities accountable...

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