FREEDOM of expression and media in Malaysia will be further suppressed say rights groups as the country’s parliament debates a ‘fake news’ Bill ahead of this year’s General Election.

Malaysia .jpg
Malaysia’s opposition coalition prime ministerial candidate Mahathir Mohamad speaks against a controversial proposal to redraw electoral boundaries outside near the Parliament House in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia March 28, 2018. The sign (front R) reads: “Go out and vote, defeat the thief”. Source: Reuters

A majority of MPs in Malaysia’s Dewan Rakyat, the Lower House, seek to pass a law which would impose lengthy jail time and hefty fines for creating, publishing or distributing what the government deems to be fake news. It would also allow the government to pursue legal action against people overseas.

The country’s de facto minister for law Azalina Othman said while addressing the Dewan Rakyat that “fake news is bad news … stories that have been fabricated or changed and spread without a conscious consideration of the impact it will have on people, will hurt the country.”

Azalina has previously said that “the Bill does not restrict the right to freedom of expression of the people as provided under the federal constitution in any way.”

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