Bangkok, Thailand – The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) and Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) today urged Malaysia’s Parliament not to pass the Anti-Fake News Bill 2018. The two organizations are concerned that the bill will unduly limit freedom of opinion or expression in Malaysia, and could be used to suppress legitimate criticism of the government.
Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) is gravely concerned with the introduction of the Anti-Fake News Bill 2018 which threatens to further curtail freedom of expression and allow the government to establish ‘truths’ and reject legitimate news and criticism.
We, the undersigned civil society organisations, are deeply concerned about plans to table a bill to address “fake news” in Parliament next week. The bill, if adopted, will add to a range of repressive laws that have been used to violate the right to freedom of expression and undermine media freedom in Malaysia. We urge the government to drop the proposed bill, which we believe is yet another attempt to stifle debate and criminalise those who speak out against corruption and human rights violations.
Press statement by Kua Kia Soong, SUARAM Adviser 22 March 2018
President Donald Trump’s “fake news” mantra has inspired authoritarian leaders elsewhere to manufacture new laws that can both target legitimate media outlets that are critical of them and further violate the media’s ability to exercise freedom of expression. The Malaysian government has thus far suspended media and blocked websites that have hounded the Prime Minister over the 1MDB affair, and I believe, has recently launched a website to counter “fake news”. Nonetheless, 1MDB is being investigated in at least six countries for money-laundering and misappropriation of funds and cannot be so easily canned as “fake news”.