Go ahead, charge me over fake news: Mahathir

PUTRAJAYA: Malaysian opposition leader Mahathir Mohamad challenged the government to charge him under an anti-fake news law, after authorities said they were investigating him for false claims that his plane was sabotaged ahead of the general election.
Malaysia is in the middle of intense campaigning for an election on May 9 that pits Prime Minister Najib Razak against 92-year-old former premier Mahathir.
Critics say the new fake news law is aimed at curbing free speech and criticism of Najib, who is grappling with a multi-billion-dollar scandal at state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), and popular anger over rising living costs. “I’m going to be charged under the new fake news law… Go ahead and charge me,” Mahathir said at an opposition rally in the administrative capital of Putrajaya on Thursday.
“On May 9, we will take down this kleptocratic government led by one who is named Najib Razak,” he told thousands of cheering supporters.
Mahathir said last week that he suspected sabotage of a private plane that was to fly him from Kuala Lumpur to Langkawi, where he was to file his candidacy, after the pilot discovered some damage to the aircraft just before take-off.
The government ordered an investigation, following which the Civil Aviation Authority said the inquiry found no indication of sabotage. Its chairman said it was wrong to make such “wild and false” claims for political gain.
Malaysia’s inspector-general of police, Mohamad Fuzi Harun, told reporters police may call Mahathir in to give a statement in connection with the fake news probe “if there’s a need”.
Malaysia is among the first few countries to legislate policing of fake news. A Danish national was prosecuted last week under the law for inaccurate criticism of police on social media. — Reuters