Its official, the Anti-Fake News Act 2018 comes into force today

PETALING JAYA: The Anti-Fake News Act 2018 has finally been gazetted as law and is enforceable with immediate effect.

The documents on the controversial Act has been uploaded to the Federal Gazette website at http://www.federalgazette.agc.gov.my

Details of the document reveal that the Bill has received the Yang di-Pertuan Agong's consent on April 9 whereas the date of commencement of the Act is April 11.

The controversial Act which drew criticisms from Opposition members and press freedom advocates was passed in the Dewan Rakyat on April 2, several days before it concluded its 13th session.

Caretaker Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said had earlier dismissed claims that the bill was approved because of the upcoming 14th General Election (GE14), and that the government wanted to restrict freedom of speech.

"I would like to emphasise that the claims are totally baseless because this is a global issue. Some countries such as Germany, Singapore, France, the Czech Republic and European Union have also taken and are taking the same measures to curb the dissemination of fake news.

"The bill is people-centric and quasi-criminal in nature; it provides for offences related to fake news. The bill also provides protection for everyone from falsehoods through a court order application as stipulated in Part III of the bill," she said in a statement on April 4.

Two changes were made to the bill before it was passed, including the reduction of jail time for creating and spreading fake news from 10 years to six years.

The other change was a proposal to replace the word "knowingly" in clause four with "maliciously" after hearing from various parties, including lawmakers.