Does Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) Ban Free Speech?!

Does the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) ban free speech in Malaysia?! Take a look at the viral claim, and find out what the facts really are!

Updated @ 2024-04-02 : Updated after claim went viral again
Originally posted @ 2023-07-03

 

Claim : News Sharing Banned By POTA / Prevention of Terrorism Act

This warning about the Prevention of Terrorism Act / POTA keeps going viral in WhatsApp, and social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. Here is the original warning in Malay, and our English translation in bold):

No more sharing of news posting after this.

” AKTA POTA YANG TELAH DILULUSKAN MALAM TADI DI PARLIMEN…

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Truth : News Sharing NOT Banned By POTA / Prevention of Terrorism Act!

This is yet another example of FAKE NEWS circulating on WhatsApp, and social media platforms, and here are the reasons why!

Fact #1 : Prevention of Terrorism Act Was Passed In 2015

First, I should point out that this is really old fake news that started in April 2015, and keeps recirculating every few years.

The Prevention of Terrorism Act / POTA 2015 (Akta Pencegahan Keganasan 2015) was passed by the Malaysian government on 7 April 2015, and coincided with the arrest of seventeen suspected militants who were allegedly involved in a terror plot in Kuala Lumpur.

Fact #2 : POTA 2015 Targets Terrorism, Not Politics

POTA 2015 is not meant to target any healthy discussion of politics or political issues in Malaysia. Rather, it’s meant to tackle the threat of terrorism in Malaysia:

  1. To prevent the conduct or support for acts of violence involving terrorist organisation of a foreign country.
  2. To ensure that individual involved in terrorist activities do not escape legislative action.
  3. To ensure that Malaysia’s citizens and its security are not threatened by those involved in militant activities.

Fact #3 : POTA 2015 Does Not Ban Free Speech

POTA 2015 does not target people who share news on WhatsApp or social media, even if it’s of sensitive issues. It targets people who are engaged in acts of terrorism, not people who are spreading fake news or criticisms of the government.

Hence, POTA 2015 cannot be used to block people who from sharing this POTA 2015 fake news, which is why the Royal Malaysia Police (PDRM) had to ask people to stop sharing the fake news, instead of just locking them up!

Even then, people continue to share this fake news about POTA 2015 for the last 7 years on WhatsApp and social media…

Of course, if necessary, the police can use the long-existing Penal Code, and Sedition Act 1948 to prosecute people who share fake news, but that’s another story.

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Fact #4 : PDRM Calls Viral Message Fake News

On June 11, 2015, the Royal Malaysia Police (PDRM) publicly posted a long debunking of this viral POTA 2015 warning, calling it “fake news”. Here is the English translation:

PLEASE DON’T SHARE FAKE NEWS ABOUT POTA!!!

Please help us FIGHT FAKE NEWS by sharing this fact check article out, and please SUPPORT our work!

 

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Dr. Adrian Wong has been writing about tech and science since 1997, even publishing a book with Prentice Hall called Breaking Through The BIOS Barrier (ISBN 978-0131455368) while in medical school.

He continues to devote countless hours every day writing about tech, medicine and science, in his pursuit of facts in a post-truth world.

 

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