2 April 2018
Reacting to the news that the Malaysian lawmakers approved the “fake news” bill on Monday, James Gomez, Amnesty International’s Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, said:
“The Malaysian lawmakers didn’t wait long to pass a vaguely worded, catch-all bill that can be – and will be – used to crack down on peaceful government critics. This bill cynically uses new Twitter jargon to pursue an old policy: criminalising free speech.”
“The law which could be implemented within days doesn’t only impose tough penalties and gives arbitrary arrest powers for police but also allows charges to be brought against other countries’ citizens. It’s an overt assault on freedom of expression.”
On Monday, the Lower House of the Malaysian parliament has approved a bill criminalizing “fake news”, which sets out fines of up to 500,000 ringgit ($123,000) and a maximum six years in jail or both. The bill will be debated in the Senate as early as by Thursday this week. Once passed by both houses, the law may come into force within days.