MCMC Exec: Penalties For Fake News Must Be Increased To RM500,000 Fine And 10 Years' Jail
He believes the current punishments are "insufficient".
The Chief Operating Officer of the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission believes that the current punishments under Section 233 (1) Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 were "insufficient" to dissuade would-be fake news offenders
Earlier today, 18 February, several local English websites including The Malaysian Insight reported, while citing an interview the MCMC executive gave to the Malay daily Berita Harian, that new laws to curb fake news should include deterrent punishments.
"In my opinion, the current fine of RM50,000 must be increased to RM500,000 and the jail sentence (from one year) should be increased to 10 years.
"This should be a lesson so no one would simply spread fake news," COO Mazlan Ismail was quoted as saying by Berita Harian, reported Malaysiakini.
The former Permatang Pauh BN candidate said that "the time has come for us to use specific acts" to stop fake news, adding that it was "a threat to multiracial and multireligious Malaysia's harmony"
"There is no need for any party to be afraid if they did not do any wrong.
"These new laws actually protect all parties, including individuals, families, members of society as well politicians, so that they do not become victims of slander and defamation," Mazlan told the Malay daily.
While denying claims that the government's crackdown on "fake news" was an infringement on the rights to freedom of speech, expression and also freedom of the press, the MCMC chief operating officer said that "Nobody is being prevented from speaking up so long as they do not go against any laws as our country practices freedom of speech which is in line with democratic practices."
"Fake news is like a 'time bomb' that could explode at any time"
Arguing that fake news is "a threat", Mazlan said that the government's proposed new law against fake news is part of its efforts to safeguard national interest.
"Do not make any speculations to prevent this law from being tabled and passed in Parliament because it is in the interest of the people.
"Fake news is like a 'time bomb' that could explode at any time. Not only in Malaysia, fake news is being shared around the world, and it is a threat," Berita Harian quoted him as saying, according to an English translation by Malaysiakini.
While making the case for stringent enforcement saying that things go viral almost instantly in the Internet age, Mazlan added that media practitioners should not be excluded in these new laws either
"There should be no exclusion for social media or conventional media and broadcast if it is proven to have spread false news.
"Publishers and media practitioners will not have action taken against them if they practise journalism ethics and do not breach the law," Berita Harian quoted him as saying, according to an English translation provided by The Malaysian Insight.
It should be noted, though, that while Mazlan is batting for anti-fake news law, he himself is being sued by Anwar for alleging that the former and the late Karpal Singh had bribed judges and prosecutors
The UMNO politician, during a press conference in the morning of 2 August 2013, had alleged that had Anwar had paid Karpal over RM50 million since 2008 to bribe judges and prosecutors.
His allegations were later broadcasted by a TV3 journalist.The journalist, during a hearing at the Kuala Lumpur High Court last month, testified that he did not verify the accuracy of comments made by Mazlan.
When Anwar's lawyer asked the TV3 journalist if he "deliberately chose to publish the information you knew was not verified?" he replied, "Yes".
While Anwar had made a police report against Mazlan, the jailed opposition leader claims that no action was taken by the authorities