The U.S. State Department expressed concern on Tuesday at the Malaysian parliament’s approval of a bill that would allow prison terms of up to six years for spreading “fake news” – an expression frequently used by U.S. President Donald Trump. Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak’s government secured a simple majority in parliament on Monday to pass the bill, which sets out fines of up to 500,000 ringgit ($123,000) and a maximum six years in jail. The United States is concerned about the bill’s “potential impact on freedom of expression in Malaysia, as well as its global reach, which could impact U.S. citizens and companies,” a State Department spokesperson said in a statement. The statement said the measure had moved “rapidly through Parliament without meaningful public consultation and debate,” and urged the Malaysian government to consult with the business community and civil society before taking further action on the bill. In Malaysia, a bill requires the assent of the country’s figurehead sultan after passing parliament, but this is generally seen as a formality. “We urge the Government of Malaysia to ensure that all its laws, existing and future, fully respect freedom of expression,” the State Department spokesperson said. Trump often uses… Read full this story
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