PETALING JAYA: The Anti-Fake News Act 2018 has been gazetted and is now law, the prime minister, Najib Razak, announced this evening.
Speaking at the National Journalists Day event in Kuala Lumpur, he said:
“I am pleased to announce that the minister in the Prime Minister’s Department has just informed me that the Anti-Fake News Act 2018 was gazetted today, after having received the King’s consent.”
This Act was formally published in the online version of the Federal Government Gazette at the website of the Attorney-General’s Chambers.
The controversial law received royal assent on April 9. It comes into effect today.
The act defines fake news as “any news, information, data and reports which is, or are, wholly or partly false whether in the form of features, visuals or audio recordings or in any other form capable of suggesting words or ideas.”
It provides for a maximum fine of RM500,000 or a jail sentence of up to six years, or both, and a fine of RM3,000 a day for continuing offences.
The government has said the law was not meant to curtail freedom of speech but to curb the spread of falsehoods. Opposition politicians have said it was meant as a weapon “so that what is false can be upheld as true, and what is true can be reversed as false” according to DAP secretary-general and Bagan MP Lim Guan Eng.