Senate mindset must change


By voting against the Bill to repeal the Anti-Fake News Act, some senators have ignored what the rakyat want. 

THE government’s recent bid to repeal the Anti-Fake News Act has been frustrated by Dewan Negara, at least for the time being.

Under the Federal Constitution, the states are given the right to elect a certain number of senators.

This ensures that even states governed by opposition parties are given the opportunity to be represented in Dewan Negara (the Senate). And many of the current senators were appointed when Barisan Nasional was still in power.

Of course, the senators who opposed the Bill to do away with the Anti-Fake News Act were exercising their votes as provided under the Constitution.

But their act of blocking the repeal does cause the man in the street to wonder whether they did so merely to oppose a government move.

Are the honourable members of Dewan Negara appointed to the august House just to vote for the sake of supporting or opposing?

Or are they there to properly understand and examine the matters before them and, if appropriate, to express their views in the interest of the people they represent.

Many NGOs and civic groups have strongly spoken out against this conduct of the relevant senators.

I certainly share the sentiment of these groups with regard to the proposed scrapping of the Anti-Fake News Act.

In fact, in my June 28 article in The Star, I stated the reasons why I feel the Act is unnecessary and serves no good purpose.

By failing to pass the Bill to repeal the Act, the senators have shown that they still have their old mind- set.

Although it is clear what the people want, their wishes have fallen on deaf ears.

Earlier, the same senators approved the Bill that eventually became the Act. It is possible that some may have felt compelled to go along with these moves. This does not reflect well on the stature and quality of such representatives.

However, it may not be a bad thing after all for the Anti-Fake News Act to be retained for a while.

Fake news is still being circulated and, when necessary, action should be taken against the people involved.

But much of today’s fake news seems to target the present government, which suggests that the people behind these falsehoods do not support the government or oppose it on account of personal agenda or otherwise.

Therefore, I wonder whether those who opposed the Bill to repeal the Act have done a disfavour to themselves and their supporters.

That aside, the government now needs to consider whether to again move to abolish the Act or modify it in a suitable manner.

It will also be beneficial to Malaysians if, at the same time, the government looks into other laws, including the Printing Presses and Publications Act, with regard to provisions relating to false news and make the necessary changes.

Any comments or suggestions for points of discussion can be sent to mavico7@yahoo.com. The views expressed here are entirely the writer’s own.

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