Malaysia promises to repeal current Anti-Fake News Act

In passing of the anti-fake news bill, Prime Minister Najib Razak (right) claimed that "fake news" endangers political stability (photo: Mohd Rasfan / AFP).

The controversial Anti-Fake News Act 2018 (AFN Act) of Malaysia is set to be repealed in its first Parliament sitting after its 14th General Election on 16 July.

This is according to a letter dated June 11 by Amran Mohamed Zin, the ambassador and permanent representative of Malaysia to the United Nations office and other international organisations in Geneva.

Mr Amran wrote the letter in reply to David Kaye, the UN special rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, who raised his concern on 3 April this year.

The ambassador wrote, “I wish to inform you that the new government of Malaysia has decided to repeal the Anti-Fake News (AFN) Act. The process to do so has already begun, and a specific proposal is expected to be tabled during the upcoming parliamentary session beginning on 16 July.”

Kaye wrote to Putrajaya urging them to reject the legislation process just one day after the Dewan Rakyat passed the AFN Act, saying that the legislation did not appear to comply with the international human rights standards on freedom of expression.

The new ruling party Pakatan Harapan had earlier pledged to revoke the AFN Act in its first 100 days of taking over Putrajaya.

DAP Iskandar Puteri MP Lim Kit Siang had proposed that the media help draft a new anti-fake news law after the current one is repealed, adding that the decision was taken after some editors in the UK had agreed with the anti-fake news law.

As Malaysia sets out to repeal the highly controversial legislation passed by the Najib administration, Singapore is setting out to formulate and pass its own law to combat “fake news” which is said to be in the coming year.

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