Dewan Rakyat dumps Anti-Fake News law

Rohaniza Idris

KUALA LUMPUR: Four months after being gazetted as a law under the previous administration of Barisan Nasional (BN) government, the Anti-Fake News Act 2018 was repealed by the Dewan Rakyat.

The repeal took effect after the lower house of parliament passed the Anti-Fake News Act (Repeal) 2018 in its last day of meeting, of the first meeting of the 14th Parliament.

Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Mohamed Hanipa Maidin, said the repeal was made because the existing laws and acts were sufficient to prosecute any party making fake news intended to defame.

He said despite the act’s repeal, the government would strengthen investigative and enforcement agencies to ensure that fake news and slander are prevented.

“The abolition of the Act is in line with the Pakatan Harapan (PH) manifesto which pledged to abolish the law which terrorised the people,” he said in his winding up speech in the Dewan Rakyat here today.

The Anti-Fake News Act 2018 was tabled in Parliament on March 27, before it was approved on April 2. It carries a punishment of up to six years imprisonment and a fine of up to RM500,000 for spreading fake news.

Hanipa further said the temporary order in the Anti-Fake News Act 2018 was contained in existing law such as the Criminal Procedure Code Act.

He said the act was seen “repeating” many rules contained in other laws.

“That’s why we had to abolish this act,” he said.

Meanwhile, earlier in their debates in repealing the act, both Barisan Nasional and Pas law makers argued for the law to be retained.

Datuk Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man (Pas - Kubang Kerian) urged the law to be retained and that repealing it should not be the main focus but instead sticking to the right track.

Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said (BN-Pengerang) demanded proof of when the Act was misused

“Rather, the Act was created due to social media. Social media is a weapon that can cause discontent throughout the world,” she said.

Azalina said there is a need for the specific law, as other laws such as the Penal Code or the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 could not manage social media-related cases, due to it fast spreading nature.

KW: Anti-Fake News Act, Dewan Rakyat, Pakatan Harapan, manifesto, Mohamed Hanipa Maidin © New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd