Malaysiakini fails in bid to challenge anti-fake news law

Reuters pic.

KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court today dismissed news portal Malaysiakini’s leave application to nullify the Anti-Fake News Act on grounds that the action brought was premature.

Lawyer N Surendran said justice Azizah Nawawi held that the application should be dismissed as neither Malaysiakini nor its reporters had been charged under the law.

“She allowed the objection by the government to refuse the leave application as the applicant is not adversely affected and the action is premature,” he told reporters regarding the ruling which was made in chambers.

Surendran, who appeared with fellow lawyer Latheefa Koya, said he was surprised and disappointed at the outcome.

“We will be filing an appeal, although the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government has pledged to repeal the law,” he said.

Federal counsel Awang Armadajaya Awang Mahmud appeared for the home minister and the government.

On April 27, Malaysiakini owner Mkini Dotcom Sdn Bhd sought for the Anti-Fake News Act to be declared defective.

It also sought a declaration that the law, which came into effect on April 11, breaches Articles 5 (1), 10 (1) and 8 (1) of the Federal Constitution.

It said the law was unreasonable and irrational as the definition of “fake news” was unclear.

It also said the law breached Articles 5 (1) and 10 (1) as it went against the right to livelihood and freedom of speech and expression.

Civil society groups within the country and abroad had voiced concern over the law, claiming that the legislation was rushed through to quell political dissent.

PH had pledged to repeal the law if the coalition won federal power in the 14th general election.

On May 28, Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo said it might take two to three months for the new government to repeal the law as his ministry might not have time to complete the paperwork needed by the time the Dewan Rakyat sits on June 25.

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