We’ll accept opposition views on ‘fake news’ law, says Azalina

azalina-fake-newsKUALA LUMPUR: The opposition will be allowed to give its views on the special committee set up to study the legal aspects of the law regarding the spread of fake news, says Azalina Othman Said.

The minister in the Prime Minister’s Department said the government will meet with all stakeholders, including MPs from the Barisan Nasional and opposition parties.

“However, they must not have any bad intentions when wanting to discuss what is proposed by the special committee or when asking for updates.

“Look at Gelang Patah. Before we can start anything, he has already accused the government of having bad intentions and that we are out to get the opposition,” she said, referring to Gelang Patah MP Lim Kit Siang, who is also DAP parliamentary leader.

“The problem with the opposition is that they will object to everything.”

Azalina, who is Pengerang MP, admitted that opposition members had also been victims of “fake news”.

“When they become victims, they blame the government. We are looking at solutions.

“As you know, nowadays with social media, one touch of the button and off it goes. Hence, fake news has become a matter of national security.”

She added that the government took the matter seriously because the prime minister is very concerned about people using fake news to destabilise the country.

“We are a mixed society with different races and religions, with potential sensitive issues. Perpetrators cannot just hide behind their computers,” Azalina said.

She dismissed the notion that the committee would become a “weapon” for BN and called the statement “unfair”.

Azalina acknowledged that there were existing laws to address some of the fake news but “there were too many gaps”.

“When you look at technology today and who the players are, it’s borderless. Existing laws have their limitations.

“One of the biggest challenges for us is the level of nuisance because sometimes people are just playing the fool. However, sometimes that can lead to hate on many levels.”

Asked for an update on the special committee, she said they have had technical meetings and “we’re doing it stage by stage”.

“As with any act of law in Malaysia, we will present it to the cabinet for general approval and then bring it to Parliament.”

Azalina said the special committee held its first meeting on Feb 4.

Kit Siang had suggested that the committee on fake news be replaced by a bipartisan committee.

“The committee can draft laws and have a mechanism to tackle fake news without giving more powers to the authorities to harass and persecute dissent.

“What credibility does this present committee have?” he had said in a statement.

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