9 OCTOBER 2019
Responding to the Parliament’s decision to abolish the Anti Fake News Act 2018 for the second time, Amnesty International Malaysia’s Executive Director, Shamini Darshni Kaliemuthu said:
We commend the Malaysian government for going forth with its decision to abolish the Anti Fake News Act 2018 for the second time despite the initial bill failing to pass the Senate last year.
The definition of “fake news” in the law is broad and vague, and therefore open to be used to stifle free speech. It includes “any news, information, data and reports which are wholly or partly false, whether in the form of features, visuals or audio recordings or in any other form capable of suggesting words or ideas.”
Amnesty International Malaysia notes that the Parliament’s decision is a nod towards creating a greater space for freedom of expression in the country. We look forward to seeing this bill being passed at the Senate and its subsequent abolition.
However, we would like to remind the government that other laws such as the Sedition Act 1948, the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998, the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012, and the Security Offences and Special Measures Act 2012 have been used to target human rights defenders and peaceful government critics.
As the government have said that these laws are currently being reviewed, a moratorium on these laws must be imposed to ensure that it is not open to abuse and silent dissent. These laws should be subsequently repealed like the Anti Fake News Law as part of Pakatan Harapan promise for a greater freedom of expression.