Malaysia's newly elected Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad stated in a live telecast on state TV that the anti-fake news law will be given "proper" definition so that the media and public are clear on what is fake.
The 92-year-old PM said, "Even though we support freedom of press and freedom of speech, there are limits."
On 26 March, Malaysia tabled the anti-fake news bill in Parliament which targets any news, information, data and reports, which is or are wholly or partly false, whether in the form of features, visuals or audio recordings or in any other form capable of suggesting words or ideas with fines of up to RM500,000 (S$168,000) or imprisonment of up to 10 years or both. The bill was approved by former PM Najib Razak last month.
Mahathir had promised in his campaign to abolish the anti-fake news law and he was even being accused of being guilty of generating fake news himself just a few weeks before the election.
The Prime Minister said, "The fake news law will be given a new definition so that the public and media outlets will know what is fake news and what is not fake."
However, looking from his statement, it is likely for the law to be changed instead of being fully abolished.
The law which would likely be repealed is the Printing Presses and Publications Act (PPPA) 1984 which governs the usage of printing presses and the printing, importation, production, reproduction, publishing and distribution of publications in Malaysia.
It was being widely critised as it has been said that it restricts political discourse, silences political opponents and manipulates the news delivered to consumers.
Permatang Pauh MP Nurul Izzah Anwar told Malaysiakini that she is committed to restoring press freedom, saying that
she is working on abolishing the PPPA and said that she will set up a media council to make this happen.
"In 2010, I prepared a bill to abolish the PPPA and to institute a media council. It has been my commitment to ensure that media is free and fair in this country," she said.
"We’re talking about a new era where you celebrate truth and allow criticism, fair criticism, to construct the future government of the country to prosper," she explained when met with reporters outside the Yayasan Albukhary building in Kuala Lumpur on 12 May.