New Straits Times

King supports law to curb spread of fake news

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KUALA LUMPUR: Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Muhammad V yesterday voiced his support for the government’s proposal to formulate a law to curb fake news on social media.

Speaking at the opening of the first meeting of the sixth session of the 13th Parliament sitting, the king noted the influence of social media and its effects on society.

“Social media has a significan­t influence in shaping the values and culture of society.

“All parties should play their roles in safeguardi­ng good character and moral values in society.

“Hence, I support the proposal to formulate a law to address the spread of fake news and slander on social media,” he said.

Previously, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said had said that the government had formed a special committee to study a new law to combat fake news.

This is in line with the government’s bid to address threats to the country’s political stability as well as its peace and security.

Malaysia uses Section 8A of the Printing Presses and Publicatio­ns Act 1984, introduced 30 years ago, to tackle the spread of fake news.

Azalina, when met in Parliament yesterday, said the final draft of the law aimed at curbing the spread of fake news would be tabled to the cabinet soon.

“In a couple of weeks, we will take the draft to the cabinet to be finalised, before it can be tabled in Parliament,” she said.

However, Azalina said, several factors needed to be taken into considerat­ion before the law could be tabled for its first reading at the Dewan Rakyat, including whether there would be enough time for it to be tabled (for the second and third readings), as well as to be debated and passed during the current session.

She called on members of parliament to debate the introducti­on of the new law wisely, based on the sole purpose of protecting the sovereignt­y of the country, once the bill was tabled in Parliament.

“The formulatio­n of the new law is important because the term ‘fake news’ does not exist in any law in Malaysia.”

Azalina, however, declined to elaborate on the gist of the new law, saying that it was too early to do so.

In a subsequent press statement, Azalina said the government had never compromise­d on issues relating to national security, whether the threat was domestic or foreign, or from cyberspace.

“I would like to extend my gratitude to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong for his consent to the government’s move in tackling fake news via the formation of a new law.

“The bill is being refined at the committee level and discussion­s are ongoing with the relevant parties.

“The government will continue to ensure these issues are resolved effectivel­y and holistical­ly.”

I would like to extend my gratitude to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong for his consent to the government’s move in tackling fake news via the formation of a new law. DATUK SERI AZALINA OTHMAN SAID Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department

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