Saifuddin to ‘look into’ anti-fake news law

Communications and Multimedia Minister Saifuddin Abdullah (centre) speaks at a press conference in Putrajaya today.

PUTRAJAYA: Saifuddin Abdullah, the new communications and multimedia minister, says he will “look into” the anti-fake news law which was repealed by Dewan Negara in December last year.

Speaking at his first press conference under the Perikatan Nasional government, he said media freedom would be upheld but that “we cannot compromise on fake news”.

He added that he would hold further discussions on the matter before coming to a decision.

“I understand there was the anti-fake news law and the revocation of it.

“It would not be fair of me to make any specific announcement on how we will deal with it because it involves other ministers,” he said.

He said he would stand by his principles in upholding press freedom without compromising on fake news laws.

“Please understand that the main issue is not anti-fake news, the main issue is freedom.

“Can we agree on that?” he said.

Asked about the Freedom of Information Act which had been part of Pakatan Harapan’s (PH) election manifesto, Saifuddin said it was “very much” part of the agenda.

“I am the same Saifuddin that upholds freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law,” he added.

Previous law minister Liew Vui Keong had said that the Freedom of Information Act would need an in-depth study to ensure that it does not contravene any existing laws.

He also said it was in line with PH’s commitment to review the Whistleblower Protection Act 2010, the Official Secrets Act 1972 and the Witness Protection Act 2009.

Saifuddin added that he wants to set up a consultative council comprising experts in law and policy. He said in general, he wants to continue the policies and programmes put in place by the previous government, in order to ensure continuity in delivery.

However, he added that several changes would have to take place in time.

On the World Health Organization’s designation of Covid-19 as a pandemic, he said they would discuss the matter, especially in terms of the ministry’s functions.