A tuition teacher in Johor has become the first person to be charged under the emergency ordinance for publishing fake news regarding the COVID-19 vaccine on Facebook.

Free Malaysia Today (FMT) reported that Mohd Nazaruddin Yusoff, was charged at the sessions court in Johor Bahru this morning.

In the offending post on April 21, Nazaruddin had allegedly claimed that a traffic policeman had died after receiving his second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, whereas the fact is, the policeman had died of a heart attack.

Nazaruddin claimed trial to the charge, and was released on an RM8,000 bail. The case's mention has been fixed on July 7.

The Emergency (Essential Powers) (No.2) Ordinance 2021, which came into effect on March 11, stipulates a fine of up to RM100,000, or an imprisonment of three years, or both, for those who create or share fake news on COVID-19 or the Emergency proclamation enforced to contain the pandemic.

It deems offenders as any person "who, by any means, with intent to cause, or which is likely to cause fear or alarm to the public, or to any section of the public, crates, offers, publishes, prints, distributes, circulates or disseminates any fake news of publication containing fake news, commits and offence and shall, on conviction, be liable to a fine not exceeding one hundred thousand ringgit or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years or to both."

Besides those creating or spreading fake news, parties who directly or indirectly provide financial assistance to the former, also stand to be fined up to RM500,000, or jailed for six years, or both, upon conviction.

The ordinance also exempts the federal government or any authorised personnel, such as the police, from lawsuits and legal proceedings, in enforcing it.

Companies or its representatives involved can also be charged for the offence. The ordinance also gives the government far-reaching powers, as the authorities can prosecute any individual - Malaysian, or non-Malaysian, including those who reside overseas, for an offence committed within the country.

Source: FMT
Photo source: thecityjournal.net