New York, March 26, 2018–The Committee to Protect Journalists today called on the Malaysian Parliament to withdraw a draft bill on fake news. Under the proposed Anti-Fake News 2018 bill, anyone convicted of creating, circulating or publishing fake news online or on social media could face a 10-year jail term and fine of up to $130,000, according to news reports. Government officials said the draft bill would promote national security, according to The Associated Press.
“The government’s justification that this bill is to promote national security is laughable. The authorities already have an arsenal of laws dating back to the colonial era to do that,” said CPJ Deputy Executive Director Robert Mahoney. “This legislation is designed to intimidate independent and muckraking journalists at a time when allegations of widespread corruption are swirling around members of the political and business establishment.”
Before being passed into law, the bill must go through several readings and be approved by a majority in the upper and lower houses of Parliament, both of which the ruling party controls, according to Agence France Presse.