PN leaders ridicule ‘fake news’ task force for Sungai Bakap by-election

Would the government be trying to control the narratives played up on the campaign trail through the task force?

(FMT) – PAS deputy president Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man takes a swipe at Pakatan Harapan, saying it previously opposed the now-abolished Anti-Fake News Act.

Two Perikatan Nasional leaders have ridiculed the government’s decision to form a task force aimed at curbing fake news on social media for the upcoming Sungai Bakap by-election.

Bersatu vice-president Ronald Kiandee feared that this task force could restrict the opposition’s freedom to campaign for the by-election, questioning how Putrajaya would determine what constituted real or fake news.

“When they were in the opposition, they opposed the use of the Sedition Act, claiming it restricts freedom of speech.

“Now, as the government, they should walk the talk instead of restricting opposition parties from speaking the ‘truth’ on the by-election campaign trail,” Kiandee told FMT.

The Beluran MP also asked if the government would be trying to control the narratives played up on the campaign trail through the task force.

Earlier today, communications minister Fahmi Fadzil said his ministry will set up a special task force to curb the spread of fake news on social media ahead of the by-election next month.

Fahmi said there would usually be teams assigned under his ministry to keep an eye out for “irresponsible statements” on social media and address them.

The Sungai Bakap state seat by-election will be held on July 6, with early voting on July 2.

Meanwhile, PAS deputy president Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man expressed surprise at the decision to set up a task force, pointing out that multiple by-elections have been held since the last general election in November 2022 without any need for such a task force.

He claimed the task force was simply aimed at suppressing PN on the campaign trail for the by-election.

“When the Anti-Fake News Act was proposed previously, they opposed it, claiming that we already had laws to prevent fake news,” he said in a swipe at Pakatan Harapan.