Mumbai :The Malaysian government has introduced an anti-fake news bill that has sparked controversy as the Southeast Asian nations heads towards a general election. The proposed law imposes a heavy fine and a 10-year prison sentence. Opposition parties and media houses have spoken out, calling the bill an attack on press freedom and a tool for the government to suppress any unfavourable attention.
The Anti-Fake News Bill 2018 proposes a maximum fine of 500,000 Ringgits – that’s about Rs 83 lakh in Indian terms – for anyone found guilty of creating, publishing or circulating news that is ‘wholly or partly’ false. This heavy fine may or may not be combined with a prison sentence that could extend to 10 years. And all of this applies not must to news outlets, but also to social media and instant messenging platforms.
Perhaps what makes this legislation different from most existing anti-fake news laws around the world is that it would also cover individuals and entities from other countries. Another key and unique punitive measure is the 3000 Ringgit per day fine for each day that a piece of fake news is circulated after a person has been convicted.
Opposition to the proposed law has stemmed from multiple fronts. Media outlets criticise it saying it gives the government a tool to target any news report as fake news. Politicians have taken aim at it saying it is a ploy by the government to curtail freedom of political expression ahead of the elections.
“The bill is of a deterrent nature, to give a clear message that each individual should be responsible for the sharing of true and healthy information… At the same time, the bill will also give a clear message that the government will not compromise in the matter of dissemination of fake news that can undermine public order or national security, and will continue to ensure that national security is preserved,” said Azalina Othman Said, a Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, in an interview to New Straits Times.
She also dismissed the criticism of the threat the bill may pose to freedom of expression. “This is an unsubstantiated and politically-motivated claim… The proposed bill is aimed at protecting the public from fake news and, at the same time, ensuring that their right to speech and expression under the Federal Constitution is respected,” Said said.
‘Mahagathbandhan’ club of ‘nawabs of negativity’: Jaitley
Mumbai: The opposition “mahagathbandhan” (grand alliance) is a club of “nawabs of negativity” and the only glue of this diverse grouping is its opposition to one man (Narendra Modi), Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said.
People of an aspirational society which is politically conscious will not buy into this “suicidal” alternative, the senior BJP leader said.
“The nawabs of negativity may come together but that is not something that will carry credibility as far as people are concerned,” Jaitley said, speaking via video link at the CNBC-TV18 India Business Leadership Awards event. During the video call, Jaitley also spoke about the Union Budget.
This was the first time Jaitley, now in the US for medical treatment, addressed a gathering since leaving the country on Tuesday.
The setback the ruling BJP suffered in Assembly elections in three heartland states recently (Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan) has enthused some opposition leaders about the likely electoral success of such an alternative.
The “mahagathbandhan” has neither the ideological cohesiveness nor a common programme aimed at building the country or an individual leader, Jaitley said.
As against the BJP’s strengths of leadership, decisiveness, performance and potential, the point being put forward by the opposition is of arithmetic, Jaitley highlighted.
In politics, it is not the arithmetic but chemistry which succeeds, he added.
“The premise is that we have politics which is negative in character and the negative politics is we want one man (Narendra Modi) out. On that negativity of wanting one man out, they (Opposition) have come together,” Jaitley said.
Arun Jaitley also said there is a need to elevate the political debate in the run up to the elections and stressed that we cannot afford a “sloganised political debate” where emotional cries take over sound policy.
Without mentioning the promise of farm loan waivers, which the opposition Congress is pitching for, the minister said “sloganised policies” never help the larger interest of the economy and it is the country’s aspirations which will receive a setback in the process.
Govt compromising national security, why 36 Rafale jets instead of 126: Chidambaram
New Delhi: Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram on Friday accused the government of compromising national security and asked why it bought only 36 Rafale fighter jets instead of 126 required by the Air Force.
His comments come in the wake of fresh revelations on the Rafale deal in a media report which claimed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision to but 36 aircraft instead of the 126 asked for by the Air Force pushed the price of each jet up by 41.42 per cent.
“In the light of new facts and revelations in THE HINDU, the question gains greater urgency: why did the government buy only 36 Rafale aircraft instead of 126 aircraft required by the Air Force?,” Chidambaram asked in a tweet.
“The Government has compromised national security by denying to the Air Force the 7 squadrons (126 aircraft) that it desperately needs,” he said.
Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia also took to Twitter to demand answers from Modi on the increased cost of aircraft. “The PM’s unilateral decision to buy 36 Rafales resulted in a price escalation of 41.42 per cent per jet. When will the prime minister answer? he asked.
No war, but soldiers are dying on borders: Bhagwat
Nagpur: RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat said requisite steps need to combat killings on the border, as soldiers are being martyred sans a war-like situation in the country.
“In our country, there is no war at the moment, still people (soldiers) are getting martyred…Because we are not doing our jobs properly. We need to make efforts in this regard. If we want our country to reach the top, then we all should learn to sacrifice,” he said at a gathering here on Thursday.
Furthermore, Bhagwat said the responsibility of safeguarding the country should not be solely shouldered by the Forces.
“Everybody has to make efforts in this regard. This is not something for which we can give a contract to somebody. We keep thinking that the government will do it or the army will do it, the police will do it, but it’s not like that, the entire society has to make efforts,” he opined.
Citing the example of Israel, Bhagwat noted: “If one looks closely, after 70 long years, those countries in comparison with India have done better in terms of growth and development. Israel is a classic example. The natives were weed out before the 19 c. But citizens there gradually came back to their country and started their businesses, trade etc. Finally, in 1948 they got independence.”