KL law against fake news repealed after just five months

KUALA LUMPUR • Malaysia’s Anti-Fake News Act, which was passed about five months ago, has been repealed with a simple voice vote.

Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Mohamed Hanipa Maidin, in his winding-up speech, said there were sufficient laws to deal with fake news.

“We don’t need new legislation. We already have existing laws, such as the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 and others, that can deal with this phenomenon,” he told lawmakers yesterday.

Mr Mohamed Hanipa also said the police and other enforcement agencies should be empowered further to deal with the emergence of fake news. He was responding to a question from Barisan Nasional MP Azalina Othman Said, who asked how fake accounts on social media spreading fake news would be handled without the law.

Only 12 lawmakers debated the Anti-Fake News (Repeal) Bill 2018 for about three hours yesterday to repeal the contentious law. It was passed by a simple voice vote.

The Anti-Fake News Act was passed by the Parliament on April 2 following fierce debate over two days. The following day, the Senate passed it amid allegations by opposition MPs that the law was being bulldozed through by the Barisan Nasional government to clamp down on them before the 14th General Election on May 9.

TACKLING FAKE NEWS

We already have existing laws, such as the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 and others, that can deal with this phenomenon.

MR MOHAMED HANIPA MAIDIN, Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister's Department, saying there were sufficient laws to deal with fake news.

MP Charles Santiago of the Pakatan Harapan coalition told AFP the move was part of the new government’s “commitment to take away all legislation that impinges on human rights and freedom of expression”.

THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 17, 2018, with the headline 'KL law against fake news repealed after just five months'. Print Edition | Subscribe