Journalists welcome Malaysian govt’s move to repeal ‘fake news’ law

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The Foreign Correspondents Club in Malaysia (FCCM) welcomed Friday the new government’s move to repeal a “fake news” law, in line with a promise made during this year’s election campaign.
“We take note of rising concerns, not just in Malaysia, but globally, over the veracity of news stories, but it is really up to the industry to regulate itself,” FCCM president Shannon Teoh told dpa on Friday.
Under the bill that was rushed through in April by the previous government of former Prime Minister Najib Razak, those guilty of “creating, offering, [or] publishing fake news” could be fined more than 100,000 dollars and jailed for up to six years.
Najib, who was in the ruling National Front coalition that has been in power since Malaysia gained its independence in 1957, was ousted by Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad in a shocking election defeat in May.
Critics previously said Najib was looking for means to curb freedom of the press following corruption allegations against his administration.
After a few hours of legislative debate on Thursday, the “fake news” law was repealed by a simple voice vote.
“What should be encouraged and facilitated is an increase in responsible and ethical reporting practices, including the right of reply, fact-checking and vetting of news sources,” Shannon said.
“A review of licensing regimes, media accreditation and even laws like the Sedition Act would push Malaysia further forward towards being a vibrant marketplace of ideas and information,” he said. (dpa/NAN)

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