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‘Fake news’ laws crop up across the region

Malaysia (3rd quartile) passed its Fake News Act in March – the first country in the region to adopt such a Bill. It was followed by a raft of copycat legislation: Cambodia (4th quartile) announced intentions to draft a law, and Singapore (3rd quartile) created a committee to address the problem of ‘deliberate online falsehoods’, ultimately passing a law in 2019.[1] The Philippines is pushing to pass a similar Bill.[2]

Even without these laws, ‘false information’ continues to be wielded against journalists and activists across the region – in Bangladesh, for example – though convictions usually come under other charges.


[1] ARTICLE 19, Singapore: New Law on ‘Online Falsehoods’ a Grave Threat to Freedom of Expression, 9 May 2019, available at; see also Mong Palatino, ‘Fake news laws, letters to Facebook, and a decline in press freedom rankings: Asia-Pacific in April’, IFEX, 1 May 2018, available at

[2] Southeast Asian Press Alliance, [Regional] The Slide Backwards Across Southeast Asia, 3 May 2019, available at