Malaysia election: Opposition leader Mahathir facing fake news charge

Mahathir Mohamad, the former Malaysian prime minister turned opposition leader, is being investigated under a controv...

Posted: May 3, 2018 1:22 PM
Updated: May 3, 2018 1:22 PM

Mahathir Mohamad, the former Malaysian prime minister turned opposition leader, is being investigated under a controversial anti-fake news law over a claim his plane was sabotaged, police have said.

Kuala Lumpur police chief Mazlan Lazim told reporters Wednesday a "fake news" case had been opened regarding Mahathir's claim, according to Malaysian state news agency Bernama.

A spokesman for Mahathir said they had seen the reports based on a police report, but had not heard directly from the authorities that he was under investigation.

Police reportedly opened an investigation into Mahathir after he claimed his plane was sabotaged on a campaign trip in the run up to next week's general election. At the age of 92, Mahathir made a surprise political comeback, jettisoning his former party in an attempt to wrest control from Prime Minister Najib Razak.

The country's Civil Aviation Authority said in a statement Saturday it had found "no indication whatsoever of any sabotage" of Mahathir's plane.

"Allegations of sabotage against an aircraft are extremely serious, and could impact the reputation of Malaysian aviation and the country as a whole," the statement added.

Police did not immediately respond to CNN request for comment.

Controversial law

Passed last month, the Anti-Fake News Law 2018 makes it an offense to create, publish or disseminate any fake news or publication containing fake news.

Those found guilty under the law can face up to six years in prison and fines of up to $130,000.

The government has justified it as necessary for state security, but the law has been roundly criticized by human rights groups and opposition lawmakers.

Zaid Ibrahim, a former minister in charge of legal affairs, said the law was connected to the ongoing IMDB scandal, which has seen Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak accused of misappropriating massive amounts of money.

"This law is necessary for Najib, but not the country. He needs this to put fear in people, that they can go to jail if they criticize him," he told CNN last month.

Ahead of the bill's passage into law, Brad Adams, Asia director for Human Rights Watch director, called it a "blatant attempt by the government to prevent any and all news that it doesn't like, whether about corruption or elections."

"(The Law) uses draconian penalties and broad language in an audacious and unprecedented effort to control discussion of Malaysia worldwide," he added.

Uncertainty over future

It is currently unclear what stage the fake news case against Mahathir has reached, police would not respond to extra requests for comment. A spokesman for Mahathir said they had not received any extra information.

James Chin, director of the Asia Institute Tasmania at Australia's University of Tasmania, said he doubted whether the government will pursue the case before the May 9 polling day for fear of sparking a backlash and spurring opposition support.

"If they're going to get him, they'll get him after the election, not during the campaign," he added. "The price they would pay is too high."

According to Reuters, a recent poll suggests Najib could retain power with a parliamentary majority, but lose the popular vote, as in 2013, thanks to Malaysia's first past the post (FPP) electoral system, whereby the candidate in each constituency with the most votes wins the seat.

"The majority of voters are in urban areas, and urban areas tend to be anti-government," Chin said. "By default you will have a majority of the voters, but under first past the post, it's not the popular vote that is important."

West Lafayette
Clear
74° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 74°
Kokomo
Clear
69° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 69°
Rensselaer
Scattered Clouds
66° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 66°
Fowler
Scattered Clouds
66° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 60°
Feels Like: 66°
Williamsport
Clear
67° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 67°
Crawfordsville
Scattered Clouds
69° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 69°
Frankfort
Clear
68° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 60°
Feels Like: 68°
Delphi
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 72°
Monticello
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 72°
Logansport
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 72°
Warm-up again with increasing humidity & risk of storms.
WLFI Radar
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 75862

Reported Deaths: 3069
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion16088730
Lake7688278
Elkhart492685
Allen4002163
St. Joseph357883
Hamilton2829104
Vanderburgh202213
Hendricks1927108
Cass18029
Johnson1789119
Porter135539
Clark128749
Tippecanoe123811
Madison100665
LaPorte93130
Howard91365
Kosciusko86812
Bartholomew81747
Floyd80948
Marshall79323
Monroe76631
Delaware74552
Dubois70812
Vigo69911
Noble68829
Boone68746
Hancock68339
Jackson5965
Warrick58830
Shelby56527
LaGrange56310
Grant52930
Dearborn51228
Morgan49334
Clinton4444
Henry40620
Wayne38510
White37611
Montgomery35921
Lawrence35227
Harrison34823
Decatur34132
Putnam3128
Daviess27720
Miami2772
Scott27210
Jasper2552
Greene25434
Franklin24615
DeKalb2384
Gibson2314
Jennings22712
Steuben2133
Ripley2138
Carroll1962
Fayette1947
Perry18713
Posey1790
Starke1787
Wells1742
Orange17424
Fulton1722
Wabash1703
Jefferson1672
Knox1610
Whitley1556
Tipton14312
Washington1421
Sullivan1381
Spencer1373
Clay1245
Huntington1243
Randolph1244
Newton12010
Adams1092
Owen991
Jay920
Rush854
Pulaski811
Fountain742
Brown741
Blackford652
Ohio656
Benton640
Pike590
Vermillion580
Switzerland530
Parke511
Martin480
Crawford450
Union410
Warren241
Unassigned0206

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events