KUALA LUMPUR: The recently-passed Anti Fake News Bill will create awareness among members of the public against spread unverified information.
Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) Deputy Vice-Chancellor Prof Datuk Dr Adnan Hussein said while there were concerns that the bill would curtail freedom of speech, it was done to protect the people from becoming victims of misinformation.
He said in the past, the public had free rein in uploading unverified news or information.
"The bill will educate people to be more discerning when encountering unverified news or information.
"In general, the bill should be good for all. We need to practice 'tabayyun' (verifying veracity) for every questionable piece of information, as well as the credibility of the messengers," Adnan said today.
Adnan was answering a question on methods needed to prevent the spread of fake news, in a question-and-answer session moderated by New Straits Times Press chief executive officer Datuk Seri Abdul Jalil Hamid during a forum on "Communications and Media In the Advent of the 14th General Election" today, organised by the Malaysian Press Institute (MPI).
Also another panelist in the session was Infrastructure University Kuala Lumpur education, communication and literary dean Prof Dr Faridah Ibrahim.
On the upcoming GE14, Adnan advised the media to focus on the age group between 21 and 49, which formed close to 10 million registered voters in the country.
Last year, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi who is Umno vice-president, said in Malaysia 92 per cent active social media users are those aged between 18 to 29-years old.
"This (age group) is your battleground. This is the group that you must work the hardest for (to educate) and sell your narrative.
"They are not the ones who uses conventional media (for news updates or gathering information)," Adnan said.
Among the panelists who spoke in earlier sessions during the forum were International Islamic University Communications Department's Prof Datuk Seri Dr Syed Arabi Idid, Universiti Utara Malaysia's political analyst Prof Dr Mohd Azizuddin Mohd Sani, Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia's Strategic Communications Centre director Dr Mohd Faizal Kasmani, Astro Awani editor Hafidah Samat and BRU Publication associate editor Shahrum Sayuthi.
Earlier, MPI chief executive officer Datuk Dr Chamil Wariya in his welcoming remarks earlier, said in a democracy, the media is allowed to support, oppose or remain neutral during elections not only in Malaysia but other countries as well.
"Newsmen (involved in political coverage during election) often found themselves pinned in between political wars, but it cannot be denied they too have their own opinions, which (however) factored by (media house) ownership."