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Malaysian government defends new law criminalising Covid-19 fake news

Handout from Malaysia’s Ministry of Health taken on 24 February 2021 reveals Malaysia’s Director General of Health Noor Hisham Abdullah receiving the primary dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine.

PHOTO: Muzzafar Kasim/Malaysia Ministry of Health/



  • Malaysia’s government
    has needed to defend a new law which tackles fake news associated to Covid-19 and the
    state of emergency within the nation.
  • Anyone
    contravening the law might face hefty fines and jail phrases of as much as six years.
  • Opposition
    lawmakers and civil society teams mentioned the law was too sweeping and might be
    used to instil worry about criticising government.

KUALA
LUMPUR – Malaysia’s government on Friday defended a new law geared toward tackling
rampant fake news associated to Covid-19 and an ongoing state of emergency, as
critics warned it might be used to silence dissent and curtail free speech.

The
emergency ordinance, which took impact on Friday, will make it an offence to
publish or reproduce any “wholly or partly false” content material associated to
the pandemic or the emergency declaration, prescribing hefty fines and jail
phrases of as much as six years.

Emergency
legal guidelines don’t want parliamentary approval.

Communications
Minister Saifuddin Abdullah mentioned the ordinance would assist expedite enforcement,
investigation and prosecution by authorities, who would in any other case be hampered
by outdated legal guidelines which can be sick outfitted to take care of the fast enlargement of social
media.

“Our
curiosity is in combating Covid-19 and we are going to do no matter it takes … we take
cognisance of the truth that we’ve got to be honest, we’ve got to be simply in carrying
out our duties,” Saifuddin advised a news convention.

But
opposition lawmakers and civil society teams mentioned the new law was too sweeping
and might be used to instil worry among the many public about criticising the
government.

Earlier on
Friday, the prime minister’s division on Twitter posted a government round
prohibiting civil servants from making unfavourable public statements, or sharing
or distributing any content material deemed detrimental to government insurance policies or its
picture.

In January,
parliament was suspended after King Al-Sultan Abdullah declared a state of
emergency to curb the unfold of Covid-19, a transfer that the opposition decried as
an try by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin to retain management amid an influence
battle.

Malaysia
has reported 320 939 Covid-19 infections as of Friday, with 1 203 deaths, the
third highest caseload within the area behind Indonesia and the Philippines.




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