New Malaysian Govt Repeals Law Banning ‘Fake News’

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, right, receives the party form from former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, left, as Mahathir rejoin United Malays National Organization's (UMNO) in 2009 in Putrajaya, Malaysia. Photo: Lai Seng Sin / Associated Press
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, right, receives the party form from former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, left, as Mahathir rejoin United Malays National Organization's (UMNO) in 2009 in Putrajaya, Malaysia. Photo: Lai Seng Sin / Associated Press

KUALA LUMPUR — Malaysia’s new government has repealed a widely criticized law prohibiting “fake news,” in a move hailed as a landmark moment for human rights by a group of Southeast Asian lawmakers.

The bill was passed in April under former Prime Minister Najib Razak despite concerns that it would be used to silence dissent ahead of a May 9 general election.

Najib’s long-ruling coalition was ousted in the polls, ushering in the country’s first transition of power since independence from Britain in 1957.

After an intense six-hour debate in Parliament and protest by lawmakers in Najib’s party, the law was repealed Thursday with a simple voice vote.