Malaysia's Fake News Law Has Convicted Its First Person

02 May, 2018, 02:00 | Author: Mable Gonzales
  • Salah Salem Saleh Sulaiman who is of Yemeni descent pleaded guilty to creating and publishing false news

The court of Malaysia has delivered its first judgment in accordance with the law on the fight against fake news against a citizen of Denmark.

The charge was filed in accordance with Subsection 4 (1) of the Anti-Fake News Act 2018 which imposes a maximum fine of RM500,000 or imprisonment of up to six years or both. It has been criticized as a way for the government to stifle dissent and free speech ahead of the country's general election on May 9. "I agreed I made a mistake", he said.

Police disputed the claims, made in a YouTube video circulated by Sulaiman, and said they took just eight minutes to respond to the gunshots. "I seriously apologise to everybody in Malaysia, not just in the Malaysian police", he told the Guardian.

The judge fined Sulaiman 10,000 ringgit ($2,552 or P131,786) but he opted to spend a month in jail because he could not pay.

The accused, who is of Yemeni descent, was charged with publishing fake news with malicious intentions in a video posted on a YouTube account under the name "Salah Sulaiman".

In his post says that the police arrived on the scene only after 50 minutes and the ambulance service - an hour later. Last week, investigators released a picture of one of the alleged shooters who had a striking resemblance to a computer-generated sketch of one of the suspects believed to be of European or Middle Eastern origin.

Palestinian lecturer Fadi al-Batsh was shot dead by two men on 21 April.

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Malaysia's Anti-Fake News Act, enacted earlier this month after passing both houses of Parliament, covers "news, information, data and reports which is or are wholly or partly false", reports said.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) issued a statement challenging Salah's sentence.

Malaysia is among the first few countries to bring in laws against fake news.

Muslim-majority Malaysia is not the only Southeast Asian nation that recently clamped down on false news.

Singapore and the Philippines are considering introducing similar anti-fake news legislation.

After the bill was announced, opposition lawmaker Ong Kian Ming tweeted that "the point of such a law IS to prosecute truth tellers by labelling them as purveyors of fake news".

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