KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 7 — Noting the government’s focus on curbing fake news, DAP lawmaker Lim Kit Siang called today for a new probe into claims linking the “Red Bean Army” (RBA) to his party in the last general elections.
The DAP parliamentary leader said the special committee tasked with drafting a new law against fake news led by de facto law minister Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said should look into the allegations and produce concrete proof that DAP had spent RM100 million to RM1 billion to maintain the so-called RBA, said to number 3,000 members, as its online propaganda unit in the 13th general elections.
“Can the committee ascertain whether allegations that DAP had spent RM100 million to RM1 billion to maintain the Red Bean Army was fake news or not?” he asked in a statement
Lim said the allegations had come from those close to the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN).
“They even alleged that the RBA had two operational centres, one in Hotel Concorde in Kuala Lumpur and the other based in Komtar in Penang,” the Gelang Patah MP said, adding that his surprise visit to the hotel with other DAP MPs and reporters on July 4, 2014 to check on the claims had found them to be untrue.
“If the committee is not going to investigate those allegations, will the committee come out with a clear-cut statement on the allegations was the fake news concocted by BN cybertroopers?” he asked.
He said the probe is timely as some people have raised the RBA allegation in the last two years, as the country counts down to the 14th general elections that must be called by June.
Lim also questioned if the fake news committee would investigate the cybertroopers’ convention organised by the Umno Information Technology Bureau last November and the source of its funding.
“Taking an average expenditure of RM2,000 a month for each Umno cybertrooper, this would come to some RM7 million a year, and this would not include the expenditures incurred of them engaged by other units or state outfits of BN,” he alleged.
The government is looking to introduce a law to curb fake news, which will reportedly be tabled at the next parliamentary session.
The special committee was formed on January 30, following an announcement by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak that a law needs to be introduced to curb fake news as people could be incited to hate the government or cause public disorder.