Have you had that moment of absolute agony when you open your family WhatsApp group, or check out your Twitter feed, and you see that people are only sharing random (and decidedly false) news stories about how UNESCO has named our national anthem as the best anthem in the world? Or just about anything else?

I have. But after today, I might be considering moving to Malaysia, and after reading this, you’ll probably want to, too.

Because Malaysia’s Prime Minister, Najib Razak, has decided to move a Bill in Parliament to make fake news illegal and punishable.
What he suggests is imprisonment up to 10 years in jail, along with a fine of 500,000 Ringgit, which is ₹ 83,13,250.

And what does the Bill classify as fake news? According to news reports, the Bill defines fake news as exactly this:

Now, this applies to digital publications and social media, and covers features, videos and audio files. And it doesn’t just apply to Malaysian publications but also to foreign ones, provided they are referring to one or more Malaysian persons.

And the reason for introducing this Bill is two-fold. Firstly, they want to protect people from the spread of fake news, while still making sure that freedom of speech and expression is upheld. And secondly, Malaysia is still reeling under the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) Scandal, which started in 2015, where the media uncovered that the present Prime Minster was allegedly part of a multi-billion dollar graft scandal, parcelling money from the 1MDB company account (a government-run agency), into his own bank account.

So, with an election coming up, and the opposition parties already up in arms against the PM, this Anti-Fake News Bill 2018 is irksome, because the opposing parties believe that it will further endanger the freedom of news outlets, if the government in power is deciding which news is fake and which isn’t.

And since the Najib Razak government dealt harshly with those who reported the 1MDB scandal, including the suspension of a newspaper and blocking various websites, people are worried that this Bill won’t make it any easier to speak up against the government.
Source-The Hindu

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