KUALA LUMPUR — March 27, 2018: Journalist/blogger Datuk Ahirudin Attan @ Rocky Bru has proposed that a committee of independent experts be formed to determine which news is fake.
The Anti-Fake News Bill was tabled in Parliament yesterday for its first reading.
“Minister of Communications and Multimedia Datuk Seri Dr. Salleh Said Keruak should consider having a special committee comprising journalists and communication experts to study every fake news case. Get an ex-judge to chair the committee,” suggested Ahirudin.
“This special committee, if you ask me, should not have any politician on board. None. Not even ex-politicians,” he said.
Those talked to today agreed that the country needs an anti-fake news law. However, they were also worried of the possibility that some parties may misuse the law for their own interest.
Lawyer Lukman Sheriff, writing at Facebook, agrees on the need for the law as he recognises the importance of weeding out lies but hopes to see a further safeguard to prevent selective prosecution.
“In general I welcome the proposed law. Nevertheless, we need to balance it so as not to stifle legitimate criticisms,” said Lukman.
“I would like to see a further safeguard of an intent to cause harm to a group of clearly defined people, otherwise it will catch all forms of lies which will over extend the law and will likely lead to selectivity of enforcement of lies affecting certain people only,” he added.
Former Utusan Malaysia editor-in-chief Tan Sri Zainuddin Maidin said that in principle he agrees with the law but does not the trust the ruling government to enforce it.
“With the advancement of technologies and social media, inaccurate news reporting by untrained journalists cannot be avoided, thus the need of regulations but one thing we don’t need is people misusing the law,” he said.
Universiti Malaysia Sarawak Associate Professor Dr. Jeniri Amir also agrees with the need to have the law but hopes that it will never be misused as a political tool.
“Many researches had proven that since the existence of social media, the problem of fake news has been increasing beyond control.
“The penalty of RM500,000 or 10 years’ jail term or both is very heavy and should serve as a deterrent and reminder for others not to simply spread fake news.
“However, I do hope that this law will not be abused for personal gains,” said Jeniri who is a former journalist.