KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia There is no need for a specific law to tackle the spread of fake news as it can be sufficiently addressed by improving the existing acts, said Malaysian Press Institute (MPI) chief executive officer Dr Chamil Wariya.

Chamil, who supports the proposal to abolish the Anti-Fake News Act 2018, said the climate of freedom of the press would be created by media practitioners in the country in their task of reporting any issue or topic.

However, he said the new government in place today has to find a solution to address fake and fraudulent news stories, particularly on social media sites.

The government needs to find a way to stave off fake news on social media. Perhaps the government can use provisions such as the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 to combat fake news on the Internet, he told Bernama.

The new Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo Monday announced that the Anti-Fake News Act 2018 officially gazetted in April this year would be abolished as soon as possible and that the proposal to the effect would be presented to Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Chamil also stressed that although media freedom was needed, it was more important for media practitioners to practice balanced and fair news reporting by adopting the principle of responsibility.

It means that media practitioners need to understand the context of society, including the sensitivities of the communities and do not report in any way that will cause tension among the people, he explained.

Meanwhile, Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM)’s Communication and Media Studies Faculty’s Journalism lecturer Professor Dr Mokhtar Muhammad said that it would be sufficient to combat fake news by re-empowering the existing laws that include provisions such as defamation and sedition.

The existing laws are sufficient, only when there is inefficiency in the execution process will there be loopholes and with today’s information technology, the tendency to produce fake news has become easy and it is very worrying as it disturbs an individual’s personal comfort, he added.

Meanwhile, National Union of Journalists (NUJ) president Mohd Taufek Razak said NUJ was for existing acts to be reviewed as it involved online and social media as the future of print media looked uncertain at the moment.

He said NUJ viewed press freedom as not absolute considering the country has a multiracial population where security, peace and harmony must be a priority.

The freedom should be based on accountability and to take into account the effects that may jeopardise the stability of the country. The best type of freedom is the one in accordance with our culture and norms of Islam and not the freedom of the media as practiced in other countries, he said.

He added that for that reason, the proposal of setting up a media council could play a role in that direction.

Source: NAM News Network

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