Dewan Rakyat Passes Bill to Repeal Anti-Fake News Law

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The Anti-Fake News (Repeal) Bill 2019 was passed by the Dewan Rakyat today.

Speaker Tan Sri Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof had called for block voting on it after the third reading and 92 MPs were for it while 51 against.

Faihan Ghani/The Star

Twenty-five MPs from both sides of the divide had debated the Bill since yesterday.

Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department when winding up debate on the Bill said the Pakatan Harapan government was committed to repealing the Anti-Fake News Act 2018 (Act 803) because it did not want anyone to be victimised by it.

“If the act is carefully evaluated, it has elements that are draconian and can be abused,” he said.

Mohamed Hanipa explained that the PH government did not use the law to oppress anyone, unlike the previous Barisan Nasional government.

“During the BN administration, one offender was charged and punished by the court, but under the PH government, no one has been charged under this act. This shows the PH government’s concern about the unfairness of the act,” he said.

The government first tabled the bill in September last year and it got past the Dewan Rakyat but was rejected by the Dewan Negara. It has to go through the same cycle again.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Liew Vui Keong re-tabled the bill for first reading on Monday.

According to the Bill, copies of which were circulated to the media, it among others stated that the provision to repeal Act 803 was due to a change in government policy in that fake news can be tackled with existing laws.

“Laws like the Penal Code (Act 574), Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984 (Act 301) and Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 (Act 588). Therefore, Act 803 is no longer relevant,” it stated.