Muhyiddin government is putting the cart before the horses in asking for public feedback about the fake news emergency ordinance when public feedback should be sought before the gazette of the emergency ordinance

The Muhyiddin government is putting the cart before the horses in asking for public feedback about the fake news emergency ordinance when public feedback should be sought before the gazette of the emergency ordinance.

How can the government survey to gauge the public’s response to the fake news ordinance serve any purpose or contribute to the removal of the deficit of public trust and confidence when instead of putting the horses before the cart, the government is putting the cart before the horses?

The Information Department is seeking feedback on how the public thinks fake news can be combated.

For a start, to begin on a proper footing to tackle the deficit in public trust and confidence, the Emergency (Essential Powers) (No 2) Ordinance 2021 on fake news should be suspended until the outcome of the public feedback.

Is the Muhyiddin government prepared to demonstrate its bona fides in seeking public feedback on how to combat fake news?

Public trust and confidence in the Muhyiddin government have reached a new low, both because of the problem of “Dua Darjat” and the conflicting statements by Cabinet Ministers.

Malaysians are still waiting for the Attorney-General Tan Sri Idris Harun to clarify the confusing and conflicting statements by the Minister for Communications and the de facto Law Minister on the fake news emergency ordinance, with the former giving an assurance that the government will differentiate criticisms and fake news, while the latter giving a totally different message in stating that any allegation that the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government had sought a state of emergency because it had lost its majority in the Dewan Rakyat was tantamount to "fake news" under the ordinance.

In the days of 24/7 of the Internet era, why is the Muhyiddin government unable to respond to the deficit of public trust and confidence after three long days?

In fact, the Muhyiddin government should not only suspend the Emergency (Essential Powers) (No 2) Ordinance 2021 on fake news, it should suspend various emergency laws which had been hastily and unwisely gazetted as emergency laws without taking all the relevant factors into consideration, such as the Emergency (Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases) (Amendment) Ordinance 2021.

This emergency legislation raised the maximum fine for breach of SOP to RM10,000 and as the Inspector-General of Police Abdul Hamid Bador had said, the police are only empowered to issue a compound fine of RM10,000, and although the RM10,000 compound can be lessened, it must be done through an appeal to the district health officer.

But as pointed out by the DAP MP for Bukit Mertajam, Steven Sim Chee Kiong, yesterday, there is no guidelines at the local Health Department Office on how to appeal the RM10,000 compound for individuals found violating the movement control order (MCO).

The haste and failure to consider all angles of the problem were highlighted by the Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah who said yesterday that the guidelines would be issued only today, although hundreds of people had been fined RM10,000 in the first three days of the law being gazetted.

This emergency legislation to raise the RM1,000 fine to RM10,000 should be suspended indefinitely, until there is proper public feedback on the issue.

I fully agree with Sim that to fight Covid-19 is to strengthen the 3T (test, trace, treat) and not to find fault with the public and punish them heavily.

DAP Secretary-General Lim Guan Eng has announced at the Perak DAP State Convention yesterday that DAP will offer free legal aid to anyone unfairly issued a RM10,000 fine over offences related to Covid-19 standard operating procedures (SOP).

Public-spirited lawyers from all over the country who are against such unfair and oppressive emergency legislation and are prepared to volunteer their services to the public should contact the DAP, and this is the time to draft lawyers throughout the country who are prepared to fight unfair, oppressive and discriminatory laws inflicted on the people.

The report yesterday that the police in Johore issued compounds totally RM1.1 million for MCO violations during a single raid in Muar does not contribute to resolving the deficit of public trust and confidence, as the Muhyiddin government has only reinforced public perception that it was more interested in squeezing every single sen from the suffering public instead of combining all available resources to defeat the Covid-19 pandemic.

It can be said that the overwhelming majority of Malaysians want the Covid-19 pandemic to end in the shortest possible time and want the national vaccinatiuon rollout to succeed.

Why are the authorities unable to capitalise on this groundswell of goodwill and support of efforts to combat the Covid-19 pandemic instead of generating negative and divisive sentiments in the country?

Lim Kit Siang MP for Iskandar Puteri