Malaysia not alone in Fake News laws
Published on: Sunday, March 18, 2018
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Kota Kinabalu: The proposed Fake News Act by the government should be supported by all, said Umno Pensiangan Chief, Senator Datuk Abdul Ghani Yassin, Saturday."The move to have laws to counter the spread of false information will go a long way in curbing the culture of spreading lies. As of now, the wave of fake news and online hate speeches ahead of the coming 14th General Election is scary with the Government is bearing the brunt of it.

"As a democratic country, Malaysians are free to express the opinions but it must be with facts and figures.

But when lies and fake news are being circulated, especially online, it is dangerous and the consequences beyond imagination," he said.

Ghani said not only Malaysia is having laws to curb fake news.

"Out neighbours Singapore and Indonesia are also doing the same to protect society from becoming victims of fake news," he said.

Ghani said the Yang-Di Pertuan Agong, in his Royal address at the opening of Parliament recently, also expressed support for the proposal to formulate legislation to address the spread of fake news and slander on social media.

"Some political parties are exploiting the social media to spread lies and fake news, targeting the country's leaders. Many of us in Umno and BN are doing our level best to counter all these lies and fake news but the amount of such materials, almost daily, wasted a lot of our time which in actual fact should be spend on assisting the people," he said.

Ghani said having laws would not only protect Umno and BN leaders from becoming victims of fake news but also protect opposition politicians and society.

"The proposed Fake News Act will give equal protection to the opposition and they should also fully support it," he said.

He said with the general election approaching, a lot of lies were spread about the government, with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak the main target, to create hatred.

"These fake news and lies are being spread like wildfire to create hatred against the government with the hope that the people will believe and vote against BN on polling day. A lot of the so-called breaking news were written with ulterior motives with facts and figures plucked from thin air.

"Among them was that the country is now bankrupt under Najib. The strong ringgit is enough to prove that the country's economy is very healthy. But when lies are spread, many do not want to believe the truth," he said.

Ghani said falsehoods poised danger not only to politicians but also the people in general.

"I read recently in the newspapers that a woman went viral and accuse an e-hailing service driver of sexually assaulting her. The driver made a report to deny the allegation. If it did really happened, the proper procedure should be that the woman lodge a police report immediately instead of the need to go viral.

If it was not true, then the driver's reputation would be damaged and destroyed and hard for him to redeem it," he said.

Ghani said in the coming general election, social media is expected to play a major role during the campaigning period just like the last election.

"Umno and BN can expect smear campaigns being conducted against them in the social media and hopefully we will have the laws ready by then to clamp it.

"If the law is not ready, we will have to work harder to counter it although it is draining much of our time.

The future of the country lies with Umno and BN with its proven track record and not those who are good in disseminating lies," he said.

Ghani said Singapore's intention to treat fake news with the same comprehensive approach as it does illicit drugs while allowing space for a "robust" discourse, shows the seriousness of the problem not only in Malaysia but other countries as well.

"Sometimes what made fake news on social media worse was that it allowed unfiltered comments from the public.

Such activities if left unchecked, can lead to serious consequences, especially if it touches on race and religion," he said.


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