KUALA LUMPUR, April 11 — Lembah Pantai MP Fahmi Fadzil today questioned the basis of the Department of Information’s advisory circular that classified insults towards the ruling government and its leaders as possible fake news.
Fahmi demanded that the department also provide legal explanations and cite the exact law that could be used against offenders within their advisories.
“Is the government saying we can no longer comment or be enraged when a minister says warm water can help kill the Covid-19 virus?
“Or when a minister wastes personal protective equipment (PPEs) to the point of being reprimanded by doctors; or if a minister invites students to participate on TikTok?
“Or if when there are graphics released by the government that invites wives to address their husbands while mimicking the voice of Doraemon?
“When it’s right, it’s right. When it’s wrong, it needs to be corrected,” said Fahmi in a Facebook post this afternoon.
Penyebaran berita palsu mungkin nampak remeh bagi sesetengah pihak, namun impaknya amatlah besar jika penularannya tidak terkawal terutamanya ketika musim wabak #COVID19 kini
Sumber: @cybersecuritymy#FasihDigital#DudukRumah#StayHome#JabatanPenerangan#TidakPastiJanganKongsi pic.twitter.com/cgFqj1KomMAdvertisement— Jabatan Penerangan Malaysia (@JPenerangan) April 10, 2020
Among other topics included in the department’s advisory classified as possible sources of fake news include attempts to belittle the dignity of the people, organisations, or the country as a whole, and the spread of news that casts doubts on the country’s infrastructure and related critical information.
Other actions which were said to encourage the spread of unverified information include sharing extremist views, flaming racial and religious tensions, or disseminating information containing elements of pornography, gambling, or cheating.
Fahmi, without naming them, was referring to blunders by several ministers over statements made by them or their ministries on ways to combat the Covid-19 outbreak.
The first reference was towards Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba, who uttered on national television that drinking warm water flushes Covid-19 viruses into the digestive tract of which the level of its acidity would be sufficient to kill the virus.
Many health experts have since come forward to rubbish the statement, some relegating it as mere housewife tales.
Fahmi was also poking fun at former PKR colleague, Local Government and Housing Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin who was chided after she donned a full PPE set to conduct disinfection exercises in the city, much to the chagrin of healthcare workers facing a shortage in supply.
Of the other two references, one was towards Higher Education Minister Datuk Noraini Ahmad who has since encouraged undergraduates stuck within their campuses to participate in a TikTok social media competition.
The final was a jab towards a circular released by the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry that encouraged wives to dress formally, put on makeup, and even use a cartoonish voice when communicating with their spouses to avoid domestic tensions during their movement control order.