KUALA LUMPUR, Apr 2 – The Dewan Rakyat passed The Anti-Fake News Bill 2018 during the policy stage at the Dewan Rakyat here today with a bloc-vote of 123 against 64. The Bill, which seeks to formulate a new law to stop the spread of fake news which could threaten the country’s political stability and undermine public order and national security.
The bloc vote was called by G. Manivannan (PKR-Kapar). The Bill will then be presented in the Dewan Negara. The legislation, which carries stiff punishments of up to six years in prison and a maximum fine of RM500,000 after the Bill’s second reading.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said in her ministerial reply on Monday insisted that the Bill was not draconian as alleged by some parties, adding that it was an opportunity for victims of fake news to have justice. She also denied that the Bill would only benefit the Government, adding that the powers to determine what constitute fake news lies in the courts.
“Briefings on the Bill were conducted to both Barisan Nasional and opposition MPs prior to the debate. However, as usual, as I mentioned in my press statement, the issue has been manipulated.”
The first reading of the Bill on March 26 (Monday), saw a proposed a maximum fine of RM500,000, imprisonment not exceeding 10 years, or both, upon conviction for creating or spreading fake news.
The Bill, provided that any person who, by any means, creates, offers, publishes, prints, distributes, circulates or disseminates any fake news or publication containing fake news is liable to punishment. — PN