Separating fact from fiction biggest challenge when it comes to reading, says Dr M

Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad launched the National Reading Decade programme today, saying many books remain on library shelves collecting dust.

BANGI: Distinguishing between the truth and fake news is the main challenge when it comes to reading, Dr Mahathir Mohamad said.

The prime minister, who is an avid reader, said the digital era has made it easy to spread fake news and content which were detrimental to society.

“This is the biggest challenge when it comes to reading today —differentiating between fact and fiction,” Mahathir, who is also the acting education minister, said when launching the National Reading Decade programme here.

Also present was Deputy Education Minister Teo Nie Ching.

Mahathir’s comments come as governments across Asia launch a crackdown on “misinformation” or “fake news”, with arrests and the threat of jail time to counter rumours being spread about coronavirus.

In Malaysia, several people were nabbed for spreading fake news about the Wuhan virus outbreak, with one journalist charged with intention to create fear among the public by making statements linked to the coronavirus outbreak on Facebook.

Mahathir also said that digitalisation had led to many shying away from traditional reading material like newspapers and books.

“Many newspaper companies have been forced to shut down due to poor sales while books remain on library shelves collecting dust.”