Minister: Senate backstabbed govt by blocking fake news law repeal

Anith Adilah
Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman speaks during a press conference in Menara KBS, Putrajaya September 12, 2018. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

PUTRAJAYA, Sept 12 — Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman criticised the Dewan Negara for rejecting the Bill to repeal the Anti-Fake News Act today, likening the move to betrayal.

Speaking to reporters on a coming debate series on the same matter, he said the event could not have come at a more appropriate moment.

“This is timely because the Senate has, in a way, backstabbed us (the government) by not allowing the repeal of this Act.

“Next week we will debate about this further,” he told a press conference after the Re:Action Youth Engaged Debate Series soft launch at Menara KBS here today.

Earlier today, Senate President Tan Sri SA Vigneswaran announced that the Dewan Negara has rejected the Anti-Fake News (Abolition) Bill 2018.

The block voting saw 28 members of the Senate not supporting, while 21 supported and three others abstained.

Saddiq stressed that the topic, which will be the first to kickstart the inaugural debate series, is very pertinent as it would highlight various issues including media freedom.

“That is why we picked this topic. We didn’t just pick for the fun of it.

“When we debate an issue, we want it to bring an impact that would hopefully contribute to policy-making,” he said.

The Muar MP said the objective of the debate is to instill the culture of critical thinking, improve the quality of English and encourage open discourse on sensitive issues, especially among university students.

“Too often we tell our university students that they are incapable of talking. They are blocked from discussing important public issues, especially in public forums.

“We have shied away from the culture of debating for too long. As future leaders, the youths should have a role in shaping public discourse,” he said.

The eight-debate series will start in International Islamic University Malaysia on Sept 18 and will see Saddiq, who is a prominent debater himself, going up against RHB Banking Group chief financial officer Syed Ahmad Taufik Albar.

The two ‘seniors’ will be paired with a junior debater each to discuss the topic “Repealing the Anti-Fake News Act is a mistake”.

Saddiq said such debate series should be an annual event involving every other public university in the country.

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