Anti-Fake News Bill constitutional, minister insists

Minister in Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said speaks during the tabling of the Anti-Fake News Bill in Parliament, Kuala Lumpur April 2, 2018. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Minister in Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said speaks during the tabling of the Anti-Fake News Bill in Parliament, Kuala Lumpur April 2, 2018. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

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KUALA LUMPUR, April 2 — Minister in Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said insisted today that the Anti-Fake News Bill 2018 is not unconstitutional and was formulated to benefit the public.

The Pengerang MP said no law has ever been formulated and passed in Parliament to impede the freedom of speech defined in the Federal Constitution.

“Parliament has the power to monitor freedom of speech in the interest of public order, national security, morality or to provide against defamation or incitement to any offence. Freedom of speech is not absolute freedom of speech.

“Anyone who feels they have been victimised by fake news can use this new law to challenge the responsible party in court,” she said in the winding up speech at the policy stage in Parliament, today.

Answering twelve general questions debated in Dewan Rakyat, Azalina said in comparison to previous laws, such as the Internal Security Act 1960, the power to decide on the cases is with the court and not the ruling government or ministers.

She said the Bill is exclusive in nature to curb the spread of fake news, as existing laws cannot control the issue as effectively and swiftly in accordance with the current technological developments

Azalina said some new elements introduced in the Bill includes extraterritorial application, clear definition, explanations or illustrations, offences in relations to financial assistance and interim measures.

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