Anti-Fake News Bill 2018 was tabled in Parliament and it is no doubt one of BN’s ultimate weapons to win the coming general election by force. When the bill is passed and the law is enforced, any statement, be it by the opposition members, NGOs, or even ordinary Malaysian, can be deemed “fake” and hence actions can be taken against them.
Given the ambiguity of the content of the Bill, there can be little mechanism to ensure fair application of the law. If anyone was to speak about 1MDB, according to Datuk Jailani Johari, the Deputy Communications and Multimedia Minister, unless verified by the government, the information will be deemed as “fake news”.
My concern is that this can also be applied in a greater scale and effectively served as Barisan Nasional’s ultimate weapon to cling on to power in the coming general election because anything spoken or written by the opposition or the supporters of the opposition can simply be dismissed as “fake”. Anyone who does not speak, write or act in favour of Barisan Nasional risk being persecuted. Will there still be truths in Malaysia?
The irony is, at the time Barisan Nasional is pushing for Anti-Fake News Law, Barisan Nasional has not in any way indicated what role to be played by its cybertroopers department.
In UMNO’s social media convention held in November 2017, it was reported that there were 4,500 UMNO cybertroopers tasked in “countering fake news”. When there are attacks or confrontation on their wrongdoings, Barisan Nasional leaders are quick in dismissing them as fake news and blaming the opposition from spreading them. Somehow, UMNO cybertroopers are spared from scrutiny.
What fake news are UMNO cybertroopers trying to counter? What credibility do UMNO cybertroopers hold if UMNO and whole Barisan Nasional is relying on Anti-Fake News Law to shield them from owning up to the most glaring corruption scandal? What and how are they countering fake information that are disseminated and circulated online when barely any official identity of the cybertroopers are made known to public? Who should public refer to if the public wants to learn about the “truths”?
If Najib and Barisan Nasional are serious in combating fake news and safeguarding the authenticity of all information being circulated online, all social media accounts used by UMNO’s and BN’s cybertroopers must be declared.