KUALA LUMPUR – February 6, 2018: Despite having different ideas on the specifics, several political bloggers and social media figures agree that having a law against fake news will be good for the country.
Badrul Hisham Shaharin, a former Rembau PKR division chief popularly known as Chegubard, said Malaysia needs the law due to the increase in the number of fake news of late.
He however doubts if the law will not be used to clamp up on the opposition.
“I cannot help but feel anxious since there isn’t any guarantee that this law will not be abused by the government or anyone else,” said Badrul.
“If the government is serious in curtailing fake news, it should have a commission consisting of figures that the people can trust when it comes to handling fake news,” he suggested.
Pribumi Bersatu supreme council member Akhramsyah Sanusi described such a law as impractical at best.
“The existence of social media has gave birth to many citizen journalists who express their opinions, in which some of these opinions get mistakenly passed on as facts due to the lack of training in journalism.
“They may not even have malicious intent, not to mention the fact that news can be shared nowadays. The more the said news gets shared, the more chances it will be distorted.
“How will the government know which news is fake with malicious intent and which is not? It will be more practical for the government to focus on laws that can benefit the people and educate the public on the importance of honesty when practising citizen journalism,” said Akhramsyah.
Blogger Dave Avran, who agrees with the proposal, is of the view the law will benefit all Malaysians, especially those in journalism.
“The increase in the frequency of fake news is a threat to democracy as it undermines confidence in our country’s media. Certainly this law will benefit Malaysians across the board.”
He further thinks that those who oppose are doing so because this law will force them to give up spreading lies.
“Falsehoods tend to be focused on playing with people’s feelings and getting them to be angry by putting forward points which are completely fabricated.
“Therefore they view efforts to curb fake news as thinly disguised attempts to rob them of this advantage,” said Dave.
Another blogger, retired air force captain Abdul Rahmat Hanif Omar, said the move “should have been realised years ago.”
“Not just for bloggers…. this law should keep social media and online portals in check in case they ever feel like spinning tales,” he added.
Rahmat was reffering to a recent case of an online portal which allegedly misinterpreted a statement by Federal Territories Minister Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor.
In talking about the proposal, Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Seri Dr Salleh Said Keruak said a committee to study the proposal would consider the opinions of as many people as possible.
“Fake news are not only a matter of concern for those from the ruling party but also those from the opposition and also the public. We should determine together that this problem can be resolved,” he said.
Yesterday, journalist/blogger Datuk Ahirudin Attan wrote at his blog that fake news is not peculiar to Malaysia.
“Just last month, the UK government said it was going to set up a new national security unit to tackle fake news and US president Donald Trump says even the great American mainstream media – not just social media – have been faking it these days.
“In any case, an anti-fake news law should serve neither the ruling party nor the opposition; it should be meant to protect the Malaysian public against fakehood and half-truths.”