KUALA LUMPUR: Two Pakatan Harapan (PH) senators are hoping the Dewan Negara will not rubber stamp the approval of the Anti-Fake News Bill 2018.
The senate is expected to vote on the bill today.
ST Chandra Mohan said he had raised Standing Order 47 which states that senators must be given a day’s notice on any bills that are to be debated.
“This means that the bill should be tabled one day before the debate. The Standing Order 47 was not followed.
“They tabled the bill under Standing Order 66 which relates to any bill that originates from the Dewan Rakyat,” he told FMT.
Chandra Mohan said if a short notice was necessary, a senator must propose it and the name of the senator must be recorded to override Standing Order 47.
“But that was also not done,” he said, adding that this clearly showed that Standing Order 47 and 66 were not followed.
Chandra Mohan said the senate was now using Standing Order 82 which gave the president of the house the right to override all standing orders.
Another senator, Dr Ariffin Omar, said he would be objecting to the bill as it was being bulldozed through the senate.
“Some of the provisions in the bill are totally unrealistic. For instance, both the victim and the perpetrator may not be in Malaysia. They may not even be citizens of Malaysia. How do you put them on trial?” he said, adding that the senate should not be used as a rubber stamp for the bill.
He said the bill should also be discussed with the various stakeholders such as the press, academics and NGOs so that the views from all sides will be considered.
There are 64 senators. Of these, four are from PH and two are from PAS.
The Dewan Rakyat passed the anti-fake news bill yesterday despite an outcry from critics who say it will be used to stifle dissent before elections.
The controversial bill states that any person found guilty of creating, offering, publishing, distributing, circulating or disseminating fake news is liable to a fine not exceeding RM500,000, imprisonment for a term not exceeding six years, or both.
The law originally proposed a maximum prison sentence of 10 years and fine of RM500,000 for publishing what authorities deem to be fake news, but the government lowered the jail term to six years following a storm of criticism.
Once the bill is passed by Dewan Negara, it must be sent to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong for his royal assent before it can take effect.
The new law has sparked widespread anger from activists, press freedom groups and the opposition, who believe it is aimed more at cracking down on dissenting voices than safeguarding the public from false information.
Before the law was passed, Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch, condemned it as a “blatant attempt by the government to prevent any and all news that it doesn’t like, whether about corruption or elections”.
He said the law, which covers any information deemed “wholly or partly fake” uses “draconian penalties and broad language in an audacious and unprecedented effort to control discussion of Malaysia worldwide”.
Malaysia ranked 144th out of 180 countries in the 2017 World Press Freedom Index.