PETALING JAYA: The National Union of Journalists Malaysia (NUJ) says the Anti-Fake News Bill 2018 has considerable implications for the media owing to the penalties imposed on sources, publishers and funders.
“Though the Bill targets those who create fake news, media organisations would likely also be stifled,” said NUJ general secretary Chin Sung Chew.
Chin said NUJ was concerned over a clause that states that any order by the Government requiring a publication to remove “fake news” cannot be set aside.
“To allow one party to have unquestionable power to remove articles it disagrees with could easily be abused,” he said.
Once the Bill is passed, anyone found “knowingly creating, offering, publishing, printing, distributing, circulating or disseminating” any fake news can be fined up to RM500,000, jailed up to 10 years, or both.
Anyone who is found abetting by providing financial assistance would face similar punishments, while any person who fails to remove publications containing fake news can be fined up to RM100,000.
“NUJ questions why the Bill has penalties so much higher than existing ones that address the issue of contentious news and social media posts,” said Chin.
In comparison, Section 500 of the Penal Code for criminal defamation carries a punishment of up to two years jail, a fine, or both.
An offence under Section 233(3) of the Communications and Multimedia Act for improper use of network facilities is punishable by a RM50,000 fine and up to one year in jail, or both.