The Dewan Negara has voted against approving a motion to repeal the Anti-Fake News Act, dealing a blow to Pakatan Harapan’s move to abolish the law as promised in its manifesto.
- BN senator denies opposition senators voted against the repeal to delay the progress of the new government
- First time Dewan Negara rejected a bill
On Aug 16, Dewan Rakyat MPs approved a bill to abolish the act, which was passed under the previous administration just a month before the May 9 polls.
Today, 28 senators voted against approving the motion, while 21 others voted in support of the repeal. Three senators abstained.
There are 68 senators in the Dewan Rakyat – 18 from Pakatan Harapan (PH); 14 from Sabahan and Sarawakian parties, Gerakan, Indian Progressive Front, and representatives from the disabled, Siam, Orang Asli, and Hindraf groups; 33 from Barisan Nasional (Umno, MCA and MIC), and three from PAS.
Most of the Sabahan and Sarawakian parties are allied with the PH federal government.
The motion for block voting was presented by Senator Khairul Azwan Harun as soon as Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Mohamed Hanipa Maidin concluded the winding up of the Bill for second reading.
Only 52 out of 68 senators participated in the bloc vote today.
“I was not informed about the matter in advance about the voting. It was raised by the Barisan Nasional (BN) representative for a bloc vote to be carried out,” Senate President SA Vigneswaran told the Malay Mail.
Senator Datuk Seri Ti Lian Ker from MCA told the Malay Mail that senators who voted against the repeal of the Anti-Fake News Act included Orang Asli and Thai representatives, while some BN senators had voted for the abolition.
The three senators who abstained from voting were from Gabungan Parti Sarawak.
“I voted against the repeal,” Ti said.
Meanwhile, in a statement, Khairul Azwan denied that the opposition senators voted against the repeal of the Anti-Fake News Law to delay the progress of the new government.
Instead, he believed that it was because they felt the law could be improved upon.
“…We were the ones who allowed SST to pass.
“I understand that this is a very unpopular law, but we must also recognise that we live in world of fast information. Just this week the prime minister was a target of fake news.
“Grand old institutions, such as that of the US democracy, have had their elections compromised precisely because of targeted misinformation. The threat is real and I fear our political landscape is too young to be further polarised because of fake news.”
The fake news law, Khairul added, should be a protection for everyone.
This is the first time the Dewan Negara had rejected a bill. Previously, the Senate has only instructed for Bills to be sent back to the Dewan Rakyat for amendments.
The Senate this time broke away from a decades-old perception of being the government’s rubber stamp.
Earlier report: Aug 16, Parliament Passes Bill to Repeal Anti-Fake News Law