Gerakan Media Merdeka (Geramm) expresses our concern over the government’s move to gazette an ordinance supposedly to combat “fake news” relating to Covid-19 or the emergency proclamation.
Our concern is based on the grounds that these new restrictions are not drafted by elected parliamentarians through a Dewan Rakyat sitting.
On the surface, the regulations may appear to be agreeable. However, with no clear definition of “fake news”, we are concerned over possible abuse that may arise as a consequence.
The gazetting of this law also appears to be controversial, taking into account the dispute over the need to declare an emergency at a time of uncertainty surrounding the majority status of the ruling government.
Geramm therefore calls for all the laws as gazetted under the Emergency (Essential Powers) (No. 2) Ordinance 2021 dated 11 March, which takes effect tomorrow, to not be used as a tool to silence, pressure or bully parties with an opposing view.
The situation also poses an added difficulty for the media to carry out their function of providing checks and balances if the law is abused to protect certain parties.
We reiterate our stand, as previously declared in our call against the repealed Anti-Fake News Act 2018, to fight fake news with facts, not acts.
Among others, we have consistently supported any form of fact-checking initiatives, particularly in these current times of the pandemic which have seen confusion arising from the sharing of inaccurate information.