Thursday 17 October 2019

Parliament votes to scrap law that made 'fake news' a crime


Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad. Photo: Andy Wong/AP
Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad. Photo: Andy Wong/AP

Kim Ripoll

Malaysia's parliament has scrapped a law making "fake news" a crime, which critics say was aimed at curbing dissent.

The Anti-Fake News Act 2018 was passed by former prime minister Najib Razak's administration just weeks before he lost the May 2018 election to an alliance led by Mahathir Mohamad, who had promised to scrap the law.

Parliament debated a motion to repeal the law for two days before passing it yesterday with a simple majority.

Rights groups had denounced the law, which allowed fines of up to 500,000 ringgit (€109,000) and jail terms of up to six years, as repressive and accused Mr Najib of using it to cover up allegations of graft and mismanagement.

"The demise of the rights-abusing anti-fake news bill is welcome news that is long overdue," said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director of Human Rights Watch.

Irish Independent

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