New Malaysian government repeals law banning ‘fake news’
Malaysia’s new government on Thursday repealed a widely criticized law prohibiting “fake news”, in a move hailed as a landmark moment for human rights by a group of Southeast Asian lawmakers.
The bill was passed in April under former prime minister Najib Razak despite concerns that it would be used to silence dissent ahead of a May 9 general election.
Najib’s long-ruling coalition was ousted in the polls, ushering in the country’s first transition of power since independence from Britain in 1957.
After an intense six-hour debate in Parliament and protest by lawmakers in Najib’s party, the law was repealed on Thursday with a simple voice vote.
“It not only shows that the (new) government is serious about its promises to strip controversial laws from the legal books, it also sends a signal to the wider region that positive human rights change is within reach,” its board member, Filipino lawmaker Teddy Baguilat, said in a statement.
He urged Malaysia to follow up and repeal all other repressive laws, including the Sedition Act.
“This must also be a wake-up call for other ASEAN governments to follow suit and ensure their legal codes are not used to restrict human rights,” he added.