(File pix) Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said. Pix by Halim Salleh

PUTRAJAYA: The proposed law to curb fake news cannot be compared to the now-defunct Internal Security Act during Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s tenure as prime minister.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said said this in response to Dr Mahathir’s criticisms against new law, which is expected to be tabled in Cabinet.

“Dr Mahathir should not worry about the new legislation as it is nothing like the ISA, which impeded freedom of speech and allowed detentions without trial,” she said in a statement today.

Azalina made it clear that the proposal to enact the new law had received positive reactions from many parties, including those from the opposition.

“The new law will have a huge impact on the country,” she said, adding that the proposed law was being drafted in line with the current trends.

Azalina also said she felt slighted by Dr Mahathir’s claim that the anti-fake news law was meant to prevent people from criticising the government.

“That is a baseless allegation because (fake news) is a global issue and other countries are taking similar measures to address the problem.

“As a former prime minister and member of parliament who served more than 20 years, Dr Mahathir should view this effort without any prejudice,” she said, adding that the proposed law was aimed at protecting the people’s interests and security.

Dr Mahathir, she said, should act rationally when evaluating the bill as the dissemination of fake news could negatively affect anyone, including himself.

“Fake news can be the new strategy to destroy a country with just a keystroke,” she warned.

Azalina reiterated that the drafting of the new Act is in its early stages, and that a special committee had been formed to hold consultations with the relevant stakeholders.

She said Cabinet would make a decision on the proposed law only after extensive discussions have been held with all quarters involved.

“In this respect, it is unfair for any quarters to judge the government’s efforts in this matter as the (drafting) process is still ongoing and we need to the cooperation of all parties to address the issue (of fake news) effectively and comprehensively,” she said.

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