Scope of fake news in Emergency Ordinance only related to Covid and Emergency Proclamation, says deputy minister

Deputy Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Zahidi Zainul Abidin speaks to the media at the National ICT Security Discourse-Cybersafe Challenge Trophy 2021 in Kuala Lumpur, December 7, 2021. — Bernama pic
Deputy Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Zahidi Zainul Abidin speaks to the media at the National ICT Security Discourse-Cybersafe Challenge Trophy 2021 in Kuala Lumpur, December 7, 2021. — Bernama pic

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KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 8 — The Dewan Negara sitting was told the scope of fake news in the Emergency Ordinance only involved information linked to Covid-19 or the Emergency Proclamation.

Deputy Minister of Communications and Multimedia Datuk Zahidi Zainul Abidin said ‘fake news’ according to the Emergency (Essential Powers) (No. 2) Ordinance 2021) encompassed whatever news, information, data and reports that are wholly or partly false on Covid-19 or the emergency proclamation.

“The (fake) news that went viral, whether in the form of articles visuals, audio recordings or in whatever forms, can describe words apart from ideas,” he said when winding up the debate on the motion of Emergency (Essential Powers) (No. 2) Ordinance 2021, here.

On the issue of manipulation of the Emergency Ordinance by the government to media practitioners and social media users, Zahidi said the Ministry of Communications and Multimedia has a verification officer appointed through inter-agency cooperation.

He said the verification officer represented the ministry or department concerned including the Ministry of Health, National Security Council and several other agencies which helped the police and the Communications and Multimedia Commission to conduct investigations.

“The setting up of an Ordinance enforcement action team also helps a lot in coordinating any issue arising...with the verification officer verifying whether the news concerned is true or fake,” he said.

He said if the news concerned was found to be fake, the police would be informed to conduct an investigation under Section 4 (1) of the Emergency Ordinance.

According to Zahidi, since the Ordinance came into force from March 12 until December 6, 30 investigation papers were opened on enforcement action against individuals or quarters who uploaded or spread fake news on Covid-19 and the Emergency Proclamation.

“Of the total, 28 cases have been completed with 12 cases charged and 16 cases classified as no further action while two cases were still under investigation.

Zahidi said individuals found guilty could be fined a maximum of RM100,000 or jailed not exceeding three years or both, while for continuous offences the party involved could be fined a maximum of RM1,000 every day the offence continued after conviction. — Bernama

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