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PETALING JAYA, Aug 4 ― News outlets Bernama and New Straits Times must be hauled up for publishing “false news” now that Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has disputed their reports of him blaming non-Muslims for mocking Islam, the DAP insisted today.
Yesterday, Muhyiddin denied he had referred to non-Muslims or to a recent controversy of an online video featuring a Muslim dog trainer that he was reported to have done in earlier reports by the two media outlets.
“As a victim of repeated lies by these news organisations, I would believe that Muhyiddin is also a victim of such lies,” DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng said in a statement today.
“Only by punishing these news organisations, will they stop spreading such lies that threaten the very fabric of Malaysian nation-building and unity.”
Following the reports on Friday, DAP members lodged police reports in Jinjang, Kuala Lumpur against the deputy prime minister for alleged sedition.
In the original Bernama article, Muhyiddin was quoted as saying that while Muslims do not insult the religions of others, non-Muslims insult Islam.
“This shows that there is no deep understanding within society. Muslims do not insult the religion of non-Muslims such as Christianity and Hinduism.
“But non-Muslims are insulting our religion,” he was quoted as saying.
In a clarification yesterday, Bernama corrected the quote attributed to Muhyiddin to now say: “Certain parties have belittled and mocked our religion lately and hopefully it will not persist as to cause tension, as what is happening in other Islamic countries.”
Today, Lim, who is also Penang chief minister, highlighted that printing false news attracted heavy penalties under the Printing Presses and Publications Act (PPPA) governing newspapers and periodicals.
“Under section 8A of the Printing Presses & Publications Act 1984, the penalty for false news is a maximum fine of RM20,000 and imprisonment of 3 years or to both whereas under section 233(1) of the Multimedia and Communications Act 1998, the maximum fine not exceeding fifty thousand ringgit or to imprisonment not exceeding one year or to both,” he said.
Despite the call, however, Lim expressed continued doubts that authorities will take action against the outlets closely linked to the government, noting the blind eye turned towards previous incidents involving Umno-owned Utusan Malaysia.
On July 26, Lim made a similar demand for Utusan Malaysia to be hauled up for disseminating “false news” that the police planned to use the Sedition Act over the distribution of photographs showing students of SRK Sri Pristana in Sungai Buloh, Selangor eating in a bathroom, after Selangor acting police chief Datuk A. Thaiveegan refuted the report.
“DAP doubts that action will be taken against Bernama, New Straits Times Utusan Malaysia for spreading false news as the [Barisan Nasional] practices double-standards and selective prosecution in only punishing its opponents but not those who support BN,” he said.
“No action was taken against Utusan Malaysia for openly calling for the bloody May 13 racial riots that killed thousands of innocent Malaysians to be celebrated as a holy day.”