Malaysia will stick by its decision to repeal the Anti-Fake News Act and will not follow its neighbour Singapore in bid to tackle “online falsehoods”.
“We made a promise to the people that we would do away with the Anti-Fake News law. That is what the people wanted and we respect the people who voted us into power.
“We understand how social media can be abused. For us, that means we have to learn how to handle fake news,” said Dr Mahathir in a question-and-answer session during a joint press conference with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Tuesday (April 9).
“When we have a law that prevents people from airing their views, we are afraid the government itself may abuse it, as has happened with the last government.
“We do not want any government, this one and the succeeding ones, to make use of the law for the government itself to create fake news in order to sustain itself.
“But, of course, it (fake news) will be difficult to handle but we believe that we can accept the challenge and we can handle it,” he added.
The Dewan Rakyat passed the Anti-Fake News (Repeal) Bill 2018 in August last year but the Dewan Negara rejected it in the following month.
Lee defended his government’s decision to introduce the Bill, despite criticisms from groups such as Reporters Without Borders.
“It is not just Singapore who is legislating this. France and Germany have done it. Australia introduced something similar and very draconian. Singapore has had to do it, and we have deliberated it for almost two years.
“I am not surprised Reporters Without Borders have criticised it, as they have criticised many things about Singapore’s media management.
“But what we have done has worked in Singapore, and it is our objective to continue to do things which will work for Singapore,” said Lee.