PETALING JAYA: The current punishment meted out to curb the spread of fake news is no longer effective as a deterrent to offenders, says Malaysia Communication and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) chief operating officer Datuk Dr Mazlan Ismail.
He said the current fine of RM50,000 or a jail sentence of up to one year, or both, was insufficient to stop offenders from committing such crimes.
He said the people need not worry when the law is enacted as it will be used to protect them from the threat of fake news.
“They should not be worried if they have not committed any crime. The new law is aimed at protecting the rights of all, including individuals, families and politicians.
“It is time for us to use a specific Act to stop the spread of fake news, especially in a borderless world.
“The current punishment is not deterrent enough and does not scare offenders,” he was quoted as saying by a Malay daily.
“In my opinion, the current fine of RM50,000 must be increased to RM500,000 and the jail sentence should be increased to 10 years.”
Dr Mazlan said the new law would not infringe on freedom of speech as long it is within the law.
He said the spread of fake news was a threat to the country’s multi-racial and multi-religious communities, as they manipulated situations and turned them into big issues.
“None of the media would be exempt from action under the country’s law if they are found to spread fake news,” he added.
According to Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said, a special committee had been formed to look into laws to curb fake news that threaten political stability and public order.
The Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department said the committee would look at related laws and new provisions to be brought to the Cabinet’s consideration.
Representatives from the police, Attorney-General’s Chambers, National Security Council, Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission, the Communications and Multimedia Ministry and the Legal Affairs Division had their first meeting last month.