KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Special Tasks Minister Teo Chee Kang believes the proposed law against fake news will safeguard social harmony and protect social media users.
Teo, the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) president, said Malaysia should follow the lead of some western countries that had implemented a similar law and found it useful.
“Germany and the Czech Republic have done it, and the French government intends to do it.
“Malaysia, as a multi-racial country, needs to be very careful in addressing the issues of race and religion.
“The issues of hate speech, cyber bullying, have to be regulated,” Teo told reporters after attending a LDP Chinese New Year breakfast session with local media here today.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Azalina Othman Said has said a draft of the proposed law against fake news would be submitted to the cabinet before being tabled in the Dewan Rakyat next month.
The move has been criticised by the opposition, with former minister Zaid Ibrahim, who joined DAP last year, saying there was no need for such a law as existing laws already covered “malicious and dangerous” statements.
DAP parliamentary leader Lim Kit Siang, while agreeing there was a need to deal with fake news, called for a bipartisan committee to study the proposed law.
Pakatan Harapan chairman Dr Mahathir Mohamad was concerned the proposed law could be used to cover up the truth.
Teo said the proposed law would protect social media users from being manipulated by irresponsible people.
“Just as we regulate the conventional media, I think we should also have laws regulating the digital media as well. That’s very important to preserve the peace and harmony that we have.
“Before you make something viral amongst your friends through social media, you must ensure the information, news or video clips are correct.
“Otherwise you are actually being abused by those behind the fake news, just being used by them as a tool to spread the news for their agenda,” Teo added.
On a separate matter, Teo said LDP had not received any resignation letter from its former president V K Liew whose 3-year suspension from LDP has ended.
“I’m not sure (if Liew is still a party member) because one media report says he has quit the LDP but we have not received any resignation letter from him.
“The suspension was for three years and that has lapsed. There is no need to issue another notice to inform him that the suspension has lapsed, because that is automatic.
“And the position in the party is that he resumes his party membership … unless he opts to join another political party,” he said.
Liew was one of the VIPs at the Parti Warisan Sabah’s Chinese New Year open house here last week.
He told reporters that he was keeping his political options open but found Warisan to have the right traits to become the government of Sabah.
The former deputy minister in the prime minister’s department was ousted as party president following an internal tussle, resulting in Teo taking over the post in October 2013.
Liew had earlier failed to defend the Sandakan parliamentary seat in the 2013 general election.
Teo said Liew was free to decide on his political journey but pointed out LDP would contest the Sandakan seat.
At present, LDP holds three Sabah state seats, namely Tanjong Kapor, of which Teo is the incumbent, Karamunting whose assemblyman is Charles O Pang and Merotai, which is held by Pang Yuk Ming.