Govt stands firm on abolishing fake news law, Sedition Act

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Liew Vui Keong with Suhakam chairman Othman Hashim (right).

KUALA LUMPUR: Putrajaya today reiterated its commitment to empowering the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) and repealing laws such as the Sedition Act and Anti-Fake News Act, a year after the motion to abolish the latter was shot down in the Dewan Negara.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Liew Vui Keong said the government would table a new bill to abolish the Anti-Fake News Act in the next parliamentary session as the one-year cooling period provided for under Article 68 of the constitution was now over.

“It will be re-tabled,” he told reporters after his speech at an event to mark Suhakam’s 20th anniversary here.

“It will go through the same process as when a new bill is tabled. It will be debated again.”

The Pakatan Harapan coalition had promised to repeal the law upon taking over Putrajaya last year. Although the motion was passed in the Dewan Rakyat, it was rejected by the Dewan Negara on Sept 12, 2018.

Liew said the Cabinet decision to abolish the Sedition Act remains as well, although certain provisions would need to be removed and included in the Penal Code.

He added that the provisions on the protection of royal institutions against scandalous remarks are under review.

On Suhakam, he voiced hope that reports by the commission would be debated in the Dewan Rakyat, adding that the present method of forwarding reports to the government is ineffective in highlighting the issues raised.

He said he is studying the provisions under the Suhakam Act that would allow this to be debated in the next parliamentary sitting which begins in October.

He said he is also looking at giving Suhakam more authority to deal with its mandate to protect human rights in Malaysia.