DAP lawmaker says IGP and Ismail Sabri should be charged first under new ‘fake news’ law

Soo Wern Jun
·3-min read
Datuk Ngeh Koo Ham said Abdul Hamid and Ismail should consult the Attorney-General’s Chambers to ascertain if they have 'erred in law' via several statements they made. — Picture by Farhan Najib
Datuk Ngeh Koo Ham said Abdul Hamid and Ismail should consult the Attorney-General’s Chambers to ascertain if they have 'erred in law' via several statements they made. — Picture by Farhan Najib

KUALA LUMPUR, March 13 — DAP’s Datuk Ngeh Koo Ham today said that Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Abdul Hamid Bador and Defence Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob should be the first persons to be arrested and charged under the newly gazetted Emergency (Essential Powers) (No.2) Ordinance 2021 which came into effect yesterday for spreading fake news concerning Covid-19 and the emergency.

Ngeh said Abdul Hamid and Ismail should consult the Attorney-General’s Chambers to ascertain if they have “erred in law” via several statements they made regarding the movement control order‘s (MCO) enforcement powers.

“The IGP and defence minister should be the first persons to be arrested and charged for disseminating fake news with regards to Covid-19 and the Emergency.

“Unless they are arrested and charged, the Emergency (Essential Powers) (No.2) Ordinance 2021 should be withdrawn immediately,” Ngeh said.

Citing two examples, Ngeh claimed that Abdul Hamid and Ismail had allegedly spread fake news by announcing that police can arrest and/or issue an offer to compound breaches under Act 342 (Prevention and Controls of Infectious Diseases Act 1988).

According to Ngeh, these statements by Abdul Hamid and Ismail were made prior to the amendment of Act 342.

“After Act 342 was amended by the Emergency Ordinance 2021, the Health director-general and his authorised officers, after receiving written consent from the Public Prosecutor, may issue an offer to compound for offences under Act 342.

“The police do not have such power based on the ejusdem generics (same kind) rule of interpretation as to who is authorised to issue an offer to compound under Act 342,” he said.

Ngeh added that even if the interpretation allowed the police as authorised officers, they have to get written consent from the Publis Prosecutor before they can issue an offer to compound.

“I believe they did not (get written consent) when they issued offers to compound RM10,000 to all alleged offenders yesterday,” he said.

Citing another example Ngeh referred to the IGP’s statement on February 27, where the latter had said that the compound of RM10,000 will only be effective starting March 11 and will only be imposed on individuals who breached the MCO SOP’s repeatedly as well as those who can trigger the spread of Covid-19.

The DAP lawmaker said this was another piece of fake news, claiming that there is no legal provision to support what the IGP said.

“On March 11, the IGP confirmed what he said on February 27 was fake news when he said the offer to compound issued by the police has to be RM10,000.00 in all cases.

“Those unhappy can appeal to the health department at the respective districts for the reduction of the compound.

“If the power to determine the final fine to be imposed rests with the health ministry, clearly the power to compound rests with the ministry,” he said.

He added that Abdul Hamid had indirectly confirmed that police have no power to issue the offer to compound.

“While I do not support that the IGP and defence minister be arrested and charged under the new Ordinance which has come into effect yesterday (March 12), but since it is the law of the land, it has to be executed.

“Since the IGP and defence minister has yet to retract their fake news, they have committed offences under the new Ordinance,” he said.

Under the new Ordinance which came into effect yesterday, individuals who create or publish fake news on Covid-19 or the Emergency proclamation could now face a fine of up to RM100,000 and imprisonment.

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