KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 7 — The government is seeking to introduce a new law to combat fake news because it threatens national security, Malaysia’s de facto law minister said today.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said explained that the government is giving priority to the issue because there are organised groups attempting to spark riots and hatred on a global scale and Malaysia would not be spared.
“This is a national security issue for the government. The prime minister especially is looking into this very seriously.
“We fear there are certain quarters who would try to shake Malaysia, which is known for our multi-religious and multi-ethnic society,” she told a press conference after officiating the rebranding of Kuala Lumpur Regional Centre for Arbitration (KLRCA) here this evening.
Azalina rejected suggestions from critics who said the new law would be another tool by the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) to crack down on dissenters.
“It is unfair for people to accuse that [of BN]. As I said one too many times, fake news affect the Opposition members too. So when the law is enforced, it would protect us all.
“Times have changed. People used to send ‘surat layang’ back then but now attacks can be done within a single push of a button. Everyone’s at risk,” she said.
The minister in charge of laws said Opposition members need not concern themselves with allegations as they would also be consulted prior to enacting the law, as the Constitution dictates.
“We are in the midst of meeting all stakeholders and that includes the MPs both from the ruling government and the Opposition.
“But there is no need to come into the discussion with a negative preconceived judgment, like Gelang Patah MP who likes to accuse the government of many things,” she said, referring to DAP parliamentary leader Lim Kit Siang.
Azalina said she had earlier today held a second technical meeting with representatives from the Attorney-General’s Chamber to discuss drafting the new law.