I am loving this explainer from New Naratif on the political cartoon work of Zunar. These cartoons are seen all over Twitter and for me personally, sometimes I can get them straight away and other times it’s some deep-Malaysia level I’m not at. So lucky to have this piece now!
It’s timely too. The ‘fake news’ legislation has taken over the campaign this week, and rightfully so as it is extremely worrying. The bill, tabled yesterday and expected to be shoved through before this session ends in a couple of weeks, sees sharing or producing ‘fake news’ outlawed and carry massive fines and even a ten-year prison sentence.
What counts as ‘fake news’ anyway? The bill doesn’t explicitly say, but given how many news sites have been blocked over the years, can we assume fake news is anything the government doesn’t like. The Wall Street Journal, whose 1MDB coverage has been vital, has asked the government for further clarification. They’ve been told any 1MDB reporting which has not been verified by the government would be considered ‘fake news’.
Everyone is in the crosshairs. Everyone. Civil groups and activists are warning that the writing is so broad even private text messages, WhatsApp group chats and Facebook conversations could fall on the wrong side of the law.
No one seems to sure how this part will work, but the bill says non-Malaysian nationals and offences which occur outside Malaysia can still be prosecuted under the law. Which to me has two primary targets: Malaysian expats critical of the government and its related scandals, and foreign journalists it wants to keep out.
This has been in the works for awhile now, but after finally being tabled yesterday it has really dominated. By Friday we should have a clearer idea of criticisms and how far reaching the bill itself is.
See you then!