Malaysia’s government has cut the proposed punishment for fake news offenders from 10 to six years in prison following an outcry from rights groups and opposition lawmakers who say the bill aims to silence dissent ahead of a general election.
The anti-fake news bill, presented in parliament on Monday, is currently being debated by lawmakers.
Azalina Othman, minister in charge of law, says the government decided to reduce the prison term after considering views from all parties. She told parliament Thursday the government will also amend a clause to make it a crime to “maliciously” create fake news, instead of “knowingly” in the original draft.
Rights activists say the bill appeared aimed at shutting out discussions on a multi-billion-dollar financial scandal involving Prime Minister Najib Razak.