GEORGE TOWN: Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng today raised the spectre of the proposed anti-fake news law being used in tandem with existing internet laws to cripple news outlets, silence critics and arrest opposition leaders.
He said with the proposed law and existing internet laws, news outlets would not be able to publish freely, as they would have to go through government censors to check whether the news was verified or not.
The anti-fake news bill has been given the nod by the federal cabinet and will be tabled in Parliament next week.
“Any views that are not verified by the federal government is fake news. Only the federal government can determine what is true and what is not true.
“You will have to follow what the federal government determines as what is true news and what is fake news. They are the sole decision maker.
“This is where we are worried about it… it will be used as a weapon against opposition parties and its members… until even singing a song (we) can be caught under this section,” Lim told a press conference in Komtar today.
He said the police probe on his ABCD-GST singalong under Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act (CMA) 1998 gave a taste of what was likely to happen in the future.
Lim said the particular section was a “catch all” provision, as it gave widespread powers to the police and prosecutors to silence the voices of dissent or those with differing views.
“It is a ‘catch all’ provision. I would call it a ‘tangkap borong and sapu bersih’ law. It is intended to choke the freedom of expression,” he said.
Lim mocked his GST singalong probe by the police, saying even singing a song against the consumption tax was deemed a national security threat.
“GST is a person, apparently. Singing any song against GST is illegal in Malaysia. Is this what the country is coming to? The main point is this, how can this section be used to punish anyone who has differing views?
“There are so many clips that defame me, harass me or are offensive yet we never ask for criminal action to be taken. We only take defamation suits against them.”
Lim added that an episode similar to that involving farmer Lee Tin Choy would likely repeat in the future if the fake news law and the internet laws were used extensively.
Lee went on an expletive-riddled rant on Facebook Live video against MCA Youth chief and Deputy Education Minister Chong Sin Woon. Lee sounded off Chong for making fun of Lim during the height of the Penang floods on Nov 4 and 5. Chong had said Lim was not “as powerful as he claims to be in solving the flood problem” despite being “deity-like”.
The 48-year-old was arrested in Taiping on Nov 13 and was detained at the Kuantan police headquarters for three days. The complaint against the farmer was made by a Pahang MCA member.