By William Leong Jee Keen
THE Emergency (Essential Powers) (No.2) Ordinance 2021 which makes the publication or dissemination of fake news relating COVID-19 or the proclamation of emergency an offence punishable with a RM100,000 fine or thee-year imprisonment is a draconian enactment.
Such draconian provisions are usually enacted by authoritarian regime to curb freedom of speech.
The people are in need of information regarding the COVID-19 pandemic and measures to address it.
It is only natural for people to want to know whether the different types of vaccines are effective and safe. The people are entitled to know the side-effects, if any, of the different vaccines.
The people are entitled to know because this concerns their health, their lives and those of their family members.
The Government ought to counter fake news is by providing full and complete disclosures supported by the scientific evidence of these matters.
Reassurance to the people that the COVID-19 pandemic is properly managed and that the vaccines are safe comes from the Government revealing the truth.
Reassurance does not come by burying the truth in the form of heavy and disproportionate punishment for disseminating information. Such provisions ferment suspicions and foster distrust. The effect is to drive the people to seek answers from underground and unreliable sources of information.
I call on the Government to repeal the Emergency (Essential Powers) Ordinance 2021 because such provisions will cause more harm than good. – March 12, 2021
William Leong Jee Keen is the Member of Parliament for Selayang in Kuala Lumpur.
The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.