KUALA LUMPUR: Measures taken by the government to curb fake news should not be seen as denying Malaysians the freedom to use internet and social media platforms, said Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.
Speaking at the closing of Putrajaya Forum 2018 on Tuesday (Apr 17), he noted that rapidly emerging information communication technologies not only facilitated sharing of information but also the spread of fake news in the cyber dimension that posed great threat and harm to the country.
“Malaysia has seen too many fake news flying back and forth, from south to the north, east to west, which is certainly not the best way to progress,” he said.
“Fake news is harmful to the country and it is the responsibility of the government to neutralise the danger it poses. Please bear in mind that it is not a tool to silence the government critics, neither is it meant to go against the freedom of speech and press.”
The forum “Recalibrating Regional Security Architecture” was organised in conjunction with the 2018 Asian Defence Services Exhibition (DSA) and the National Security Exhibition (Natsec) Asia 2018.
Ahmad Zahid pointed out that measures taken to handle fake news also included educating the public to be responsible internet users and not fake news mongers.
He said such threat raised the question of how far the country’s security and defence establishments should get involved and respond particularly in light of the 14th general election on May 9.
“This is the period where we shall witness news and fake news being digitalised, networked and automated. The government has put in place several measures to handle fake news, which are no use to anyone and will only bring harm to the country and society.
“The government is determined to ensure the public is not fed with fake news,” he said adding that such kind of threat was among the major challenges that defence and all security agencies had to deal with currently and in future.
Ahmad Zahid drove home the point that security challenges were no longer in the form of traditional state-to-state conflicts.
“Instead, we are constantly threatened by the growing risk posed by the non-state actors, ranging from international religious extremists to cyber terrorists. Now, the line that separates traditional and non-traditional security has been blurred,” he said.
On the same note, he described private-public partnerships as the way forward for ASEAN in managing its regional security and stability, which would bring together regional experts and representatives across sectors.
According to him, ASEAN must look beyond its borders and enhance its regional initiative and cooperation via organisational framework such as the ASEAN Defence Ministerial Meeting (ADMM) and ADMM Plus.
“I am sure such close effective cooperation will continue to successfully address any sort of threats, which are imminent to the regional security and stability,” he said.
A four-day defence-related exhibition officiated by Zahid on Sunday at the Malaysian International Trade and Exhibition Centre gathered about 1,500 companies and 350 delegates from 45 countries.
It is expected to attract 40,000 visitors and become the platform for top management of defence and security around the world to exchange ideas while providing opportunities for industry players to market their products.