Locked Up

First Person Convicted Under Malaysia’s ‘Fake News Law’

A Malaysian court has convicted someone under its new law against fake news for the first time, after a Danish citizen posted inaccurate criticism of its police on social media. Salah Salem Saleh Sulaiman, 46, was charged with spreading fake news for posting a YouTube video accusing police of taking 50 minutes to respond to the shooting of a Palestinian lecturer in Kuala Lumpur in April. Police insisted they only took eight minutes to respond, and the charge against Sulaiman said he had “with ill intent, published fake news through a video on YouTube.” Sulaiman pleaded guilty but said the video was posted in a “moment of anger” and he did not mean any harm. The judge fined Sulaiman 10,000 ringgit ($2,500) but he opted to spend a month in jail because he could not pay. The Anti-Fake News Act covers “news, information, data and reports which is or are wholly or partly false." It covers digital publications, social media, and applies to offenders outside Malaysia if Malaysia or a Malaysian citizen is affected.