Commentary

Vague Fake News Laws Lead To Over Criminalisation In South East Asia

Since 2017, ASEAN member states have either introduced new legislation, revised existing laws or are using current regulations to penalise individuals and organisations for disseminating fake news often citing the need to curb hate speech as a primary reason. However, the definition of what is “fake” in the provisions of these legal measures is vague. Furthermore, the government’s central role in defining what is fake news within these laws deepens the problem. A key issue is that once these legislations are in place, it allows individuals and organisations to be accused of transgressing such laws. As most laws on fake…

Continue Reading

Quality Journalism Not Effective Against Fake News

Quality journalism has been thrown up in discussions that search for measures to combat fake news on social media. Proponents argue that if quality journalism is boosted, the proliferation of fake news and its consumption can be mitigated if not overcome. However, it is unclear if the promotion of quality journalism alone is indeed an effective answer. Emerging evidence suggests that quality journalism boosting is no match to the viral power of fake news over online platforms. In Southeast Asia, there is a trust deficit in traditional journalism or mainstream media in many countries due to government control. Even when…

Continue Reading

Malaysia’s Fake News Bill Delay Chance to Manage Racial Disinformation

The politics of delay around the repeal of Malaysia's Fake News Bill offers an opportunity to manage racial disinformation that can lead to social tensions. This is important as post-elections posturing in the country has brought ethnic politicking to the fore. While it has been argued that the promotion of falsehoods and hatred between communities can be dealt through existing laws such as MCMC Act 1998 - where publishers are mostly held accountable - content created and disseminated by individual producers over social media and extra-territorially beg consideration in any legal or other type of intervention. According to We Are…

Continue Reading

ASEAN’s non-interference policy hinders Rohingya justice

In spite of the United Nations (UN) Fact Finding Commission’s indictment on 28 August 2018, recommending Myanmar’s military officials “be investigated and prosecuted” for “genocidal intent” and crimes against humanity against the Rohingya and other minority groups in Myanmar, the pursuit of justice for the victims and accountability for crimes perpetrated will be hard to achieve at the regional level as ASEAN continues to provide Myanmar protective cover through the bloc’s non-interference policy.Add to this, regional commercial interests in Myanmar and a regional geopolitical climate that does not favour the protection of human rights, then justice for the Rohingyas slips…

Continue Reading

ASEAN’s Fake News Declaration Neglects State Propaganda

ASEAN’s framework to minimize the harmful effects of fake news has a serious omission if we look at the issue of disinformation holistically. What is glaringly absent in the joint declaration signed on 10 May 2018 by ASEAN Ministers Responsible for Information is the neglect to mention the harmful effects of partisan propaganda of the member States. But why would the declaration do so? After all, governments in the region, even before the days of the internet, have  historically been the purveyors of “fake news”, which includes partisan propaganda. They are the ones rolling out one-sided agenda-setting and socialization programmes…

Continue Reading

Establish a Malaysian Democracy Foundation

Following Malaysia's dramatic election in 2018, a range of efforts involving legal, institutional and cultural reforms are currently being initiated to consolidate democracy in Malaysia. However, the establishment of a 'Malaysian Democracy Foundation" or MDF presents a unique opportunity to further institutionalize democracy in the country as well as act as a catalyst in Southeast Asia and beyond. It would be the first such Foundation in Southeast Asia. The proposed MDF could be modeled on other such institutional mechanisms, notably in South Korea and Taiwan. Their experiences in conceptualizing, institutionalizing, funding and operationalizing the Korean Democracy Foundation (KDF) and the Taiwan…

Continue Reading
Close Menu