Mahathir would have been the first Malaysian to be charged under the Anti-Fake News Act 2018 if there had been no peaceful and democratic change of government on May 9, 2018

Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s antics of the fake news issue has made me think as to why the Anti-Fake News Act was rushed to become law before the 14th General Election, as it was bulldozed through the Dewan Rakyat on April 2, 2018, adopted by the Dewan Negara the next day on April 3, 2018, given the Royal Assent on April 9, and gazetted on April 11 – the four process of legislation completed in a matter of nine days, which must have made the Anti-Fake News Act 2018 one of the fastest legislation in the nation’s history.

The Anti-Fake News Act became law after the 13th Parliament was dissolved on April 7, 2018.

The Act provides a punishment of up to six years’ jail, a maximum RM500,000 fine, or both, for the publication of ‘fake news’.

The law also allows the government to seek an ex-parte order for articles to be removed, and if done on the grounds of national security, cannot be challenged in court.

Why did Najib rush through the Anti-Fake News Act as one of the last items of parliamentary business before the 14th General Election?

During the 14th General Election campaign, the Pakatan Harapan Chairman Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad was probed by the police under the Anti-Fake News Act for saying that the jet he chartered to fly to Langkawi had been sabotaged.

After the 14th General Election, the police investigations against Mahathir were dropped.

In retrospect, it was clear that if there had been no peaceful and democratic transition of power in the 14th General Election, Mahathir would have been the first Malaysian to be charged under the Anti-Fake News Act 2018.

And he would not be alone. He would be accompanied by all the other Pakatan Harapan leaders, whether DAP, PKR, Bersatu or Amanah, who would be marching in and out of courts in orange garbs to face mountainous charges under the Anti-Fake News Act, for it would be a Malaysia where any mention of the 1MDB scandal would have been guilty of criminal offence under the Anti-Fake News Act 2018 attracting six years jail or RM500,000 fine, or both.

This was made very clear by the former Deputy Minister for Communications and Multimedia, Jailani Johari, who had once defined what would fall under the Act: Any information about 1MDB that had not been verified by the government, he said, “is deemed as fake news.”

I had said that the Anti-Fake News Act was, in fact, a “Save Najib from 1MDB Scandal” legislation which criminalised all news about 1MDB scandal in Malaysia.

If Barisan Nasional had won the 14th General Election, Malaysians would be turned into a “Alice-in-Wonderland” country where any reference to the 1MDB scandal would be a criminal offence under the Anti-Fake News Act 2018 liable to be jailed for six years or fined RM500,000, or both, although outside the borders of Malaysia, the whole world would know about the 1MDB scandal and Malaysia becoming a global kleptocracy.

Malaysia would have made world history in discovering a new weapon to cover-up corruption, in particular, the 1MDB corruption and money-laundering scandal and to entrench Malaysia’s 3Is – ignominy, infamy and iniquity – as a global kleptocracy!

As UMNO, PAS, MCA, MIC and Gerakan Senators have sabotaged the repeal of the Anti-Fake News Act 2018, should Najib as well the Barisan Nasional and PAS leaders be the first to be charged under the Anti-Fake News Act 2018 until the legislation could be repealed?

(Media Statement by DAP MP for Iskandar Puteri Lim Kit Siang in Parliament on Tuesday, 24th September 2019)

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