Last updated on October 9, 2019
Also as heavy prison conditions, individuals who disseminated what police deemed untrue information — through any medium, from print to social networks — may be fined up to 500,000 ringgit ($120,000).
This was the second effort by the lower house to overturn the legislation once MPs voted to repeal it only for the opposition-controlled upper room to obstruct it.
Nevertheless, the upper house will be simply able to block a bill after, meaning that the laws will then be scrapped.
Malaysia is among many nations in Asia who have turned to these laws lately, emboldened by US President Donald Trump’s fulminations against”fake news”, but activists warn authoritarian regimes will use regulations to target competitors.
The legislation has been pushed through in Malaysia a year ago from the prior, scandal-tainted regime at the run-up into some hotly contested general election, igniting a storm of anger.
Political opponents said it was a primitive tool targeted at silencing criticism of this then-government and its chief Najib Razak, especially over the corruption mega-scandal surrounding autonomous wealth finance 1MDB.
Nevertheless, Najib and his long-ruling coalition suddenly dropped the landmark 2018 elections which brought to power a reformist alliance that had vowed to abolish the law.
He told AFP the laws were aimed at assisting”cover the prior government’s corruption and abuse”.
Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch, included that repealing the legislation” was the only way ahead to safeguard freedom of expression in Malaysia.
“The anti-fake news was a massive threat that could have crushed press freedom in Malaysia if it’d been executed.”
Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who ousted Najib at the past year’s polls, has been investigated for allegedly spreading fake news ahead of the election. He had been an opposition leader at the moment.
Last week, legislation to fight bogus news came to effect in Singapore despite criticism from technology giants and activists.