Syed Saddiq: Senate backstabbed us by rejecting repeal of Anti-Fake News Act

PUTRAJAYA: The Dewan Negara has "stabbed the government in the back" by refusing to repeal the Anti-Fake News Act 2018, says Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman.

"The debate on whether the Anti-Fake News Act should be repealed is somewhat timely as the Senate has somewhat backstabbed us," he told reporters at a press conference at the soft launching of the "Re: Action Youth Engaged" debate series here on Wednesday (Sept 12).

Syed Saddiq, who opposed the law, questioned whether such controversial legislation should be allowed as it is an issue that affects all Malaysians.

"This is a very pertinent issue, as it talks about the freedom of expression and freedom of the media to report despite the fact that it may be controversial," he said.

The Muar MP said that it was for this reason that the theme chosen for inaugural debate series was 'Repealing the Anti-Fake News Act is a mistake'.

"When we debate it, it will bring an impact to policy-making and form public opinion and define public policy," he said.

Syed Saddiq was asked to comment on the Senate's move to block the passing of the Anti-Fake News (Repeal) Bill 2018.

Earlier on Wednesday (Sept 12), the Dewan Negara rejected the Bill to repeal the Anti-Fake News Act.

This was announced by Dewan Negara president Tan Sri S.A. Vigneswaran, after 28 members voted against the repeal, compared to 21 who supported it. Three senators abstained.

The Dewan Rakyat had passed the Anti-Fake News (Repeal) Bill on Aug 16.

The Anti-Fake News Act was bulldozed through Parliament by the previous Barisan Nasional government and was passed on April 2.

Despite protests from Pakatan lawmakers, it was passed by Dewan Negara the following day on April 3, a month before the May 9 general election.

Pakatan, in its election manifesto, promised to repeal the Act.

Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia chairman Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was investigated under the Act over claims that a private jet he was using had been sabotaged to prevent him from attending a ceramah during the campaign period.

Syed Saddiq will be debating against RHB Banking Group's chief financial officer Syed Ahmad Taufik Albar on the issue at the International Islamic University Malaysia's cultural centre at 8pm on Sept 18 and the debate will be broadcasted live by RTM.