PETALING JAYA: The main threat of laws relating to Anti-Fake News to journalists is that those who don't like certain news articles may take action to remove them, according to media groups.
The ability of individuals to make ex-parte applications (urgent applications to a judge from one party) to remove news articles will affect the media house's credibility, and ultimately, readership and revenue, said Ram Anand, who is representing both the Institute of Journalists Malaysia (IOJ) and Wan-IFRA Media Freedom Committee (Malaysia).
"We should be removing criminal laws that affect the media, not adding more of them," he said, in response to the passing of the Anti-Fake News Bill 2018 by the Dewan Rakyat on Monday (April 2).
Ram said media organisations were not engaged in the drafting of the Bill and were given only one briefing session after it was tabled for first hearing.
“We are disappointed as the Bill was passed today without any further engagement with the media," Ram told The Star.
He added that another major concern is whether the media will be required to reveal their sources when certain articles are dragged through the courts.
He said this means journalists may be forced to forgo their qualified privilege in quoting sources.
He said none of these concerns about the new Bill was allayed by the Government.
"Both IOJ and Wan-IFRA had repeatedly stressed that journalists should not be subjected to actions under criminal law due to unhappiness or disagreements over news articles," Ram said.
Instead of shooting the messenger with criminal laws, people should instead write in to the organisation if there are disputes.
"Instead, we now have another criminal law that lingers over journalists. This will do very little to improve press freedom in the country," he added.