Dr M: Even AGC officers are confused about Anti Fake News Bill

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KUALA LUMPUR: Pakatan Harapan chairman Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has taken another jab at the recently tabled Anti-Fake News Bill 2018, alleging that even officers from the Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC) are confused.

“I’ve heard the explanation given by the officers where many questions were raised and they couldn’t even answer (them).  It is clear that even they themselves are confused and don’t know what is the purpose of the Bill aside from serving a political agenda,” said Dr Mahathir.

Dr Mahathir was speaking to reporters shortly after showing up at a briefing by the AGC, which was attended by several Opposition leaders.

According to Dr Mahathir, if the Opposition were to reveal certain issues of public interest, it could potentially be dismissed by the government based on the discretion of the public prosecutor.

“The decision on whether to take action or not depends on the public prosecutor. If the public prosecutor thinks that this isn’t false news, then no action will be taken.”

The Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Pribumi) chairman also expressed concern that the Anti-Fake News Bill will be used as a political tool to stifle dissent against the government.

“I find the reason to table the bill to be political and it does not intend to either maintain order or, to protect the people against false allegations. There are existing laws that are sufficient to deal with fake news and defamatory statements… But, this law gives powers to the government to arrest its critics.”

Dr Mahathir also said that there’s no reason to rush the Bill to be passed in just one day in Parliament.

"This law is very serious and it has been opposed by many quarters including the Bar Council. We should give more time for the Bill to be debated when the Parliament reconvenes after the general elections,” he said.

Under the Anti-Fake News Bill 2018, those who create and spread fake news could face fines up to RM500,000, jail up to 10 years, or both.

The Bill also states that any person who fails to remove publications containing fake news is also liable to a fine up to RM100,000 and, in the case of a continuing offence, a further fine of up to RM3,000 daily during which the offence continues after conviction.