May 5, 2018 / 10:25 AM / 6 months ago

Malaysian opposition leader investigated under fake news law

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - A Malaysian opposition leader is being investigated for alleged defamatory remarks about the Election Commission and police, state news agency Bernama reported on Saturday.

Rafizi Ramli is the second opposition leader to be investigated under a law passed in April that criminalises “fake news”.

On Wednesday, police said they were investigating Mahathir Mohamad, the opposition’s prime minister candidate, over claims his plane was sabotaged in the run up to next week’s election.

The May 9 election pits Prime Minister Najib Razak against 92-year-old former premier Mahathir.

Rafizi is under investigation over his remarks on social media about the filing of nomination papers for the election at a district in Negeri Sembilan state, Bernama reported, citing the state’s police chief Noor Azam Jamaludin.

Rafizi said an opposition candidate was not allowed to file his nomination papers.

He did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

Najib’s government passed a law in April that criminalises “fake news”, making it one of the first countries to do so. Critics have said the law is aimed at curbing dissent and free speech ahead of the election.

On Monday, a Danish citizen was convicted for inaccurate criticism of police on social media, the first person to be prosecuted under the new law.

Rafizi, a senior leader with the People’s Justice Party (PKR), was sentenced to jail in February for revealing confidential bank details in a 2012 graft scandal.

Reporting by A. Ananthalakshmi; Editing by Janet Lawrence

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