Malaysia will abolish anti-fake news law, says new communications minister

The newly sworn-in Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo. PHOTO: ANN/BERNAMA

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia will abolish its anti-fake news legislation, says newly sworn-in Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo on Monday (May 21).

In his new role, Mr Gobind, 45, said media freedom was his main agenda and he was committed to upholding it, as spelt out in his coalition Pakatan Harapan's manifesto, reported Bernama news agency.

He said a proposal to repeal the Anti-Fake News Act will be submitted to Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad soon.

"Media freedom is my priority. The media churning out news and publishing companies are bound by the existing laws so we have to look at it that way and we have to find ways to improve the freedom of press in the country. And I am committed to do so," Bernama reported him as saying.

"I will create a group of legal experts so that they can see the impact of the law so far, where there are shortcomings, we will try to improve," he said.

Mr Gobind was sworn in on Monday together with 12 other new Cabinet ministers of Malaysia's new government.

"We will set the time frame, the first 100 days we have to deliver, but how much time is required I will discuss with my officials tomorrow. Indeed, I will do it and start work tomorrow at 8.30am sharp," he said.

Malaysia's previous government led by the Barisan Nasional coalition pushed through the anti-fake news legislation in April this year.

Anyone found guilty under the law can be imprisoned for up to six years and fined as much as RM500,000 (S$170,000).

Opposition lawmakers and civil society groups objected to it, saying it would be used to muffle dissent and curb freedom of speech.

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