Free speech allowed if within legal boundaries: Fahmi

Free speech allowed if within legal boundaries: Fahmi

Comms minister says right to be heard should not be misused for slander

KUALA LUMPUR – The constitutional right to freedom of speech should not be misused as an opportunity to slander and defame others, warned Communications and Digital Minister Fahmi Fadzil.

Fahmi, who is also Lembah Pantai MP, said while he will always be a defender of free speech, people should not intentionally cross legal boundaries.

“We don’t want the people to misunderstand.

“We will defend the right to free speech but we draw the line at statements that are slanderous and (contain) baseless accusations,” he said during a press conference after visiting Radio Television Malaysia here today.

He added, however, that the government’s move to monitor social media posts is not intended to infringe upon the right to free speech as action will only be taken against selected content.

“Whatever you say (online), let it have some basis. Anything you say can be responded to (by others), including in court.

“If a gunman in the United States live-streams (his crimes), his act of violence is critiqued.

“His live-stream no longer falls under freedom of speech because it (showcases) extremism, violence, and actions that are against the law.”

Yesterday, Fahmi said the government will be reviewing existing laws to see how rules against hate speech can be strengthened.

This follows the minister revealing that TikTok had banned a total of 1,126 videos in the week after polling day for the 15th general election (GE15) for allegedly containing “extremist content”.

Netizens had earlier raised concern over misinformation and messages touching on the deadly riots of May 13, 1969, which made their rounds on social media during GE15.

When asked if the public can expect any amendments to the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998, Fahmi said that the act is “being analysed” for the time being.

“We are looking at several aspects (of the law), but I am not ready to make any announcements on this.

“Any major announcements regarding major changes (to the law) will come after the cabinet has discussed (the matter),” he said.

The law, particularly Section 233 on the misuse of communication networks, has long been a sore point for civil rights groups, with many contending that it violates free speech.

source – The Vibes

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