It is the height of utter contempt for press freedom that the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak used the launch of the inaugural National Journalists Day in Kuala Lumpur yesterdy to announce that the Anti-Fake News Act had come into effect.
It is rubbing the noses of Malaysian journalists, particularly those who have opposed the Anti-Fake News Bill, revelling in their discomfiture and failure to defeat the Anti-Fake News Bill.
Press freedom groups in Malaysia, as well as global watchdogs, had decried the bill as Putrajaya’s move to crack down on freedom of the press and freedom of speech.
Among others, concerns were raised over a mandatory ‘take down’ order which could be enforced against any alleged perpetrator of fake news.
Yes, Najib has won, but at what further price of Malaysia’s international repute and esteem – as Malaysia will now be scorned and looked askance in the international community not only as a global kleptocracy but also as a rogue democracy.
Is it a badge of honour for Malaysia to be the first country in the world to pass a law specifically targetting individuals and organisations for allegedly spreading fake news, which could easily be abused to target non-minstream media outlets that publish reports not in line with Putrajaya’s views?
I have described the Anti-Fake News Bill as “Save Najib from 1MDB scandal” Bill, not to fight fake news to incite racial ill-will, hatred and enmity, but to proscribe reports about the 1MDB scandal and other corruption and kleptocracy in Malaysia as well as to give immunity and impunity to UMNO/BN leaders, propagandists and quinoa cybertroopers to concoct and peddle “fake news” against Pakatan Harapan and civil society leaders.
Will the Anti-Fake News Act 2018 end the deluge of fake news, lies and demonization from UMNO/BN propagandists that I am anti-Malay, anti-Islam; cause of May 13 riots in 1969; a communist; multiple agent of foreign powers including CIA, KGB, MI5, Australian Secret Intelligence; received RM1 billion from Mahathir, RM100 million from tycoon Robert Kuok and over RM1 from Israeli sources; given RM40 million to a news portal; offered PAS President Hadi Awang RM100 million to defy the Sultan of Selangor; that I dominate and run Pakatan Harapan; want to be Prime Minister when Pakatan Harapan wins the 14th General Election; disband Malay Regiment; destroy Malaysia-China relations, and a litany of incredible fake news, false information and downright lies?
Will those who spread the lies and fake news that DAP is stooge of Mahathir or Mahathir is stooge of DAP be investigated, arrested and prosecuted under the Anti-Fake News Act?
What confounds the imagination is Najib’s confirmation of what media groups had said in their opposition to the Anti-Fake News legistation – that there are already existing laws to punish the offence of fake news, like Section 8A of the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984.