PETALING JAYA: The Bar Council is “very likely” to initiate a suit challenging a new law against “fake news” that came into force on Friday.
Newly-elected Bar Council president AG Kalidas Krishnan said the filing of the suit reflected the will of members of the Malaysian Bar.
“The Malaysian Bar has mandated us to initiate a suit relating to the matter, or do what is necessary. So our stand is, we will be taking this up in the right channel. Most probably, I mean very likely, there will be a suit initiated by the Malaysian Bar,” he was quoted as saying.
He said the Bar upheld freedom of speech but acknowledged that there were boundaries. “You cannot be alleging something which is not true. So we know the boundaries but we believe that people must be allowed to speak,” he said, the Malay Mail reported.
The new law against fake news about Covid-19 or the emergency proclamation, contained in a new emergency ordinance, provides penalties of a fine of up to RM100,000 and imprisonment.
Former Bar president Salim Bashir had said on Thursday that a section of the ordinance was “highly objectionable as it mandates the accused to put forward a statement of defence before trial. This might have an effect of depriving the accused of his right to put in his defence during trial, and not to disclose it anytime before trial starts, as any other ordinary trial”.
He also took issue with other sections to do with statements made by an accused and the denial of the right to challenge how documentary evidence was obtained.