Will Najib be the first to be charged under the Anti-Fake News Act 2018 for the fake news that he has been cleared by Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of any wrongdoing in the 1MDB scandal when it is passed by Parliament?
We have before Parliament a most monstrous and pernicious Anti-Fake News Bill, which undermines the Federal Constitutional guarantees on fundamental liberties in particular Article 10 on freedom of speech and expression, which will destroy the Malaysian Dream of all Malaysians down the generations that Malaysia will mature into a normal democracy.
On top of the epithet of a kleptocracy, Malaysia will be known worldwide as a democracy which had regressed into an autocracy, although retaining the external trappings of a parliamentary democracy.
It is no wonder that the Anti-Fake News Bill 2108 is unanimously regarded by all journalists worth their salt as the biggest ever threat to press freedom once it becomes law.
In fact, even former information minister Tan Sri Rais Yatim is shocked by the wide-ranging implications of the Anti-Fake News Bill, calling on the public to scrutinize it, which is clearly impossible if the Bill is to be rushed to become law before the 14th General Elections as one of the ultra-weapons against the Pakatan Harapan and civil society and to save the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s political life.
Rais has presciently warned of the wide implications of the Anti-Fake News Bill on the government, groups, NGOs and individuals, pointedly asking what would happen if “fake news” came from the government.
The political cartoonist Zulkiflee SM Anwar Ulhaque, better known as Zunar, hit the bull’s eye when he said the new legislation was aimed at hiding corruption. as Putrajaya found it difficult to control the free flow of information on the Internet like how it controlled the mainstream media.
Should the last act of the 13th Parliament be to enact a law which will be a new weapon to cover-up corruption, to entrench Malaysia’s 3Is – ignominy, infamy and iniquity – as a global kleptocracy?
I find no assurance in the statement yesterday by the Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Seri Salleh Said Keruak when he met foreign correspondents that the US Department of Justice (DOJ) filings on 1MDB won't be considered fake news.
Would the local media be liable for prosecution under the Anti-Fake News Act for publishing the 1MDB reports of foreign publications?
Clearly, the Anti-Fake News Bill is in fact a Save Najib from 1MDB Scandal Bill, as the Deputy Minister for Communications and Multimedia, Datuk Jailani Johari had let the cat out of the bag when he told Parliament last week that any information related to 1MDB not verified by government authorities is considered “fake news”.
Jailani had said that the general definition of fake news is ”news confirmed as false by authorities with expertise in the matter”.
Wouldn’t this mean that all media which carried such “unverified” news about the 1MDB scandal which appeared in foreign publications would be open to prosecution under the Anti-Fake News Act?
In any event, the assurance of the Minister of Communications and Multimedia that the US DOJ fillings on 1MDB won't be considered fake news is not worth a single sen for it will not prevent any Attorney-General from proceeding to prosecute anyone under the Anti-Fake News Act, which carries the ridiculous penalties of RM500,000 fine or ten years’ jail or to both, for publishing the US DoJ filings on the 1MDB scandal, as it is “unverified” information and therefore fake news - unless such an assurance is written into the Anti-Fake News Bill!
The Anti-Fake Ness Bill defines “fake news” as including any news, information, data and reports which, in part or wholly, are false, whether in the form of features, visuals or audio recordings or any other form capable of suggesting words or ideas.
There is no doubt that the recent statement by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, that he has been cleared by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of any wrongdoing in the 1MDB scandal is completely baseless and unfounded and fits 100 per cent into the definition of “fake news” in the Anti-Fake News Bill.
Let me ask the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Seri Azalina Othman whether Najib will be the first to be charged under the Anti-Fake News Act 2018 for the fake news that he has been cleared by Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of any wrongdoing in the 1MDB scandal when the Bill is passed by Parliament, assented by the Yang di Pertuan Agong and gazetted?
Let Azalina give this answer with the full endorsement by the Attorney-General and the Inspector-General of Police, which would mean that the police would be arresting Najib for the crime of false news so that the first test case of this new law in the courts would be the Prime Minister himself being charged under the Anti-False News Act 2018!