Malaysia to discuss the revival of Anti-Fake News Act in Parliament

Malaysia's Anti-Fake News Act was passed by the government of former prime minister Najib Razak in April 2018. PHOTO: ST FILE

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia's Parliament is expected to discuss on Monday (Nov 16) a proposal to revive the Anti-Fake News Act, a law criminalising fake news that was repealed by the previous Pakatan Harapan government.

The proposal will be presented by Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassin, Umno MP of Arau, at the Dewan Rakyat through a question to the Communications and Multimedia Minister during the Question Time, according to the Bernama news agency.

Mr Shahidan also wanted to know the ministry's mechanism to curb the spread of fake news, especially on the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Anti-Fake News Act was passed by the government of former prime minister Najib Razak in April 2018. But it was scrapped in October 2019 by Najib's successor Mahathir Mohamad after Pakatan Harapan came to power in May 2018.

The authorities have since complained about the proliferation of misinformation, especially on Covid-19. In lieu of the anti-fake news law, they have since used alternative legislation like the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 and the Penal Code to prosecute fake news peddlers.

The Royal Malaysian Police on Sept 20 said there were a total of 260 investigations opened since January into Covid-19-related false information. As at September, 131 cases are still being investigated, 35 have been prosecuted, 12 issued with warning notices, 16 are undergoing trial and 19 pleaded guilty

On Monday, the Parliament will also hear a question from Independent MP of Simpang Renggam Dr Maszlee Malik to the Higher Education Minister on the current status of the rationalisation of Education Malaysia offices abroad. Pakatan MP of Puchong Gobind Singh Deo will also ask the Education Minister about the effectiveness of online learning conducted during the Covid-19 outbreak.

Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz will also table the Finance Bill 2020 for the first reading.

The Parliament session for this week sits for only four hours a day from Monday to Thursday, from 10am to 2pm every day. Only 80 MPs - 41 from the government and 39 from the opposition and independents - are allowed to be in the House at any one time as a precautionary measure to stem the spread of Covid-19.

The third session of the Third Term of the 14th Parliament is for 27 days until Dec 15, according to Bernama.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.