KUANTAN, March 13 — The Emergency (Essential Powers) (No. 2) Ordinance 2021, which came into effect yesterday, is not to curb media freedom and prevent any parties from criticising the government, stressed Minister of Communications and Multimedia Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah.
Instead, he said, it was implemented to tackle fake news on COVID-19 and the Proclamation of Emergency.
“There are many criticisms towards this ordinance and I want to explain, those accusing the government of restricting press freedom, actually it isn’t at all because the ordinance refers to fake news regarding two issues only, namely COVID-19 and the emergency.
“We will differentiate between criticism of the government and fake news. We want to take action on fake news. So, I hope everyone, including politicians, appreciate what we are doing… if they want to criticise the ministers and so on, it’s their right and we must be smart in our answers,” he said.
He said this at a press conference after attending a ceremony to launch the Indera Mahkota Parliamentary constituency E-Tuition Programme and handing over of tablets to school students at Dewan Atabara here today.
The ordinance provides a fine of not more than RM100,000 or a jail term not exceeding three years, or both, upon conviction, and in the case of a continuing offence, to a further fine not exceeding RM1,000 for every day during which the offence continues after conviction.
The ordinance also defines fake news as including any news, information, data and reports, which is or are wholly or partly false relating to COVID-19 or the Emergency Proclamation, whether in the form of features, visuals or audio recordings or in any other form capable of suggesting words.
It is applicable to all individuals, irrespective of nationality and whether or not the offence is committed outside Malaysia.
Commenting on today’s programme, he said that through the E-Tuition pilot project, students in the constituency would be able to follow online learning at community Internet centres, with the involvement of 15 teachers who teach various subjects.
The project, in cooperation with MSD Innovation Sdn Bhd, is expected to be fully operational in April and will benefit many students in the constituency.
Earlier, Saifuddin presented 100 tablets from MYNIC Berhad and Huawei to the students.