The prime minister calls on the people to differentiate facts from lies, propaganda, false promises and illusions

KUALA LUMPUR: It is up to Malaysians to determine the country’s future by basing their decisions on facts and not fake news, Prime Minister Najib Razak said.

In his keynote address at the Putrajaya Forum 2018, Najib called on the people to differentiate facts from lies, propaganda, false promises and illusions.

He said the reason the newly-passed Anti Fake News law had been introduced was due to the government’s continuous effort to protect Malaysians from the scourge of fake news.

“It can certainly pose a security threat and we have seen many instances around the world where, contrary to the Zone of Peace, Freedom and Neutrality (ZOPFAN) principles, fake news has been used as a tool of interference by outside powers – which strangely some opposition leaders now say they welcome.

“As patriotic Malaysians, I can tell you that the members of my government do not.

“We will not compromise our sovereignty by allowing other countries or individuals to tell us what to do,” he said during the event at the Matrade Exhibition and Convention Center (MECC) here today, reported the New Straits Times.

Also present were Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein.

Touching on the country’s safety and security, Najib praised the security forces and said from 2013 until now, 389 people had been arrested in Malaysia for Islamic State (IS)-linked activities.

He said due to the horrors and madnes of extremist groups like the IS, there were 95 Malaysians who were involved with extremism in Syria and Iraq, in which 34 of them died in conflict zones and nine of them as suicide bombers.

This was why, he said, moderation – or the Quranic concept of wasatiyyah – was a crucial shield against extreme ideologies, radicalisation and terrorism and the reason he proposed the idea of a Global Movement of Moderates in 2010.

“The Global Movement of Moderates Foundation (GMMF) has been a key centre for the gathering and dissemination of information and materials to promote moderation and to fight against extremism and terrorism.

He said Malaysia’s resolution on moderation had also been adopted at the 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly on Dec 9, 2017.

On the Rohingya issue, the prime minister in his speech called on the Myanmar government to facilitate the safe and dignified return of the refugees to their homes and communities.

He said this was because, the root cause of the problem must be addressed urgently or militants would continue to appeal to desperate people.

“We fear that if the appalling situation of the Rohingya Muslim minority in Rakhine State is not properly addressed, militant elements could infiltrate this oppressed community.

“We acknowledge that the government of Myanmar has taken some steps to tackle a crisis which many have said amounts to ethnic cleansing.

“However, far more is needed,” he said.