No U-turn on plan to repeal Anti-Fake News Act

27 Mar 2019 / 15:43 H.

KUALA LUMPUR: The government does not intend to reintroduce the Anti-Fake News Act or use it against anyone despite the fact that the Dewan Negara has rejected a proposal to repeal the legislation.

Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Mohamed Hanipa Maidin (pix) said it would take a year from the date the bill was rejected by the upper house before it could be done away with.

Nonetheless, the government would stand by its decision to stop using the controversial legislation as the country already has other laws to address the issue of fake news.

“We remain committed to repeal the Act. We still have other laws, such as the Penal Code and the Communications and Multimedia Act that we can use to charge anyone for disseminating fake news,” Hanipa told the Dewan Rakyat yesterday.

He was responding to a question from Datuk Seri Ismail Abd Muttalib who wanted to know if the government planned to reintroduce the Act to ensure that the dissemination of fake stories did not have any effect on the country.

Hanipa pointed out that while the Act was still be in effect, no investigations or prosecution would be undertaken under this legislation.

“Technically, the Act can still be enforced but we don’t use it because we are a government that upholds the rule of law,” he said.

The Anti-Fake News Act was introduced in Parliament on April 11, 2018 by the Barisan Nasional (BN) government and was bulldozed through the lower and upper houses less than a month before the 14th general elections.

The bill to repeal the Act was passed at the Dewan Rakyat on Aug 16 but the BN-majority Dewan Negara threw it out on Sept 12.

Hanipa also urged the opposition not to disseminate fake news on social media as it could cause tension. He cited the example of a social media report saying that a death had been reported in the case of the dumping of chemical wastes in Sungai Kim Kim in Pasir Gudang.

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