No revival of fake news law amid crackdown

PUTRAJAYA: While the Anti-Fake News Act will not be revived, the government has ordered an immediate crackdown to stop those who are in the habit of putting up fake postings on social media, says Hanipa Maidin.

The Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department said this came following the Covid-19 outbreak, which saw people making various claims that had caused public fear and concern.

“We need to show that we are serious in tackling lies and fake news. My advice to the public is to be careful with your actions. If you are out to spread lies, we will come after you.

“If we need to make arrests and carry out raids, we will. The crackdown will start immediately, ” he said at a joint press conference with Deputy Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Eddin Syazlee Shith.

Hanipa said the government could accept criticisms but spreading fake news, lies and slander was unacceptable.

He cited an example in which a photograph of Lim Guan Eng with Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Dr Mujahid Yusof went viral, claiming that the Finance Minister was chairing a Tabung Haji meeting.

“The truth was that Dr Mujahid and his team had met Lim at his office because he is interested with the government’s concept of Rahmatan lil’alamin (mercy to all creation), ” he said.

Hanipa added that existing laws were sufficient to deal with the issue but did not rule out the possibility of drafting a new law on the spread of fake news if the situation persisted.

To date, authorities have taken eight cases involving the spreading of fake news on Covid-19 to court.

Separately, Eddin said it would be the start of the government’s seriousness to tackle fake news, and warned that the authorities will track down those using fake accounts.“We will locate and take stern action against those responsible. Our aim is to address fake news. But rest assured that our action is not discriminatory as we will only go after those who did wrong, ” he said.

Eddin said from January last year until now, eight cases of social media postings involving the royal institution, religion and race had been brought to court.

The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission received 939 complaints, investigated 62 and removed 73 postings.

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