Fake News

Malaysia's First 'Fake News' Conviction Is All About Shielding Government from Criticism

Man goes to jail for complaining about police response times.


Malaysia PM Najib Razak
Faris Hadziq/ZUMA Press/Newscom

Salah Salem Saleh Sulaiman posted an angry YouTube video claiming that it took police in Kuala Lampur, Malaysia, 50 minutes to respond to calls over the fatal April shooting of a Palestinian engineer. The police disagree. So now Sulaiman is going to jail.

It's the first conviction under Malaysia's new law criminalizing "fake news," and it's a big warning to anybody who thinks the government should get involved in determining what deserves the "fake news" label.

Whose accounting of the time is correct? I don't know. Police records say the first police car responded within eight minutes. That doesn't necessarily make it true.

Sulaiman, who is actually a Danish citizen of Yemeni descent, threw himself on the mercy of the court and pleaded guilty, insisting that he meant no harm. He did not have any legal representation. He was fined the equivalent of $2,500, which he says he couldn't pay. So he's going to prison for a month.

Malaysia's new law has been attacked by activists concerned that Prime Minister Najib Razak will abuse it to shield himself from criticism for his ongoing financial corruption scandal (he's accused of siphoning off hundreds of millions of dollars from a government investment fund) and to crack down on his opponents. Malaysia has a general election scheduled for May 9.

It is utterly unsurprising that the first fake news conviction is of somebody saying something critical of the government's behavior. When government authorities have control over what sort of criticism is allowed and what information is considered "real" or "fake," they will be tempted to use it to protect their power. Something to keep in mind whenever any official—elected or otherwise—starts popping off about how somebody needs to do "something" about fake news. It's all about shielding themselves from opposition.

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  1. Very interesting…you can rearrange the letters in “Prime Minister Najib Razak” to get “A Arab Minimize Jerk Prints.”

  2. The prime minister was reading David McCulloch’s biography of John Adams, and when he got to the part about the Sedition Act he started turning the pages with only one hand.

    1. So he’s a Wilsonian Progressive, then.

      1. Speaking of Wilsonian Progressives, more evidence as if any were needed what a scumbag FDR was.

        Settlement contingencies for a wide range of peoples were studied, but when Roosevelt described the M Project to Churchill during a lunch at the White House in May 1943, he focused on one particular group. FDR described it as a study about “the problem of working out the best way to settle the Jewish question,” Vice President Henry Wallace, who attended the meeting, recorded in his diary. The solution, which the President endorsed, “essentially is to spread the Jews thin all over the world,” rather than allow them to congregate anywhere in large numbers.

        After Roosevelt died on April 12, 1945, Carter wrote to Truman explaining his work for FDR, offering to continue his unit’s covert activities and urging the new President to fund completion of the M Project.


        1. You know who else thought he’d come up with a solution to “the Jewish question”?

          1. Adam Sandler?

          2. Martin Luther? Henry Ford? Herbert Hoover?

      2. I laughed way too hard at this. My god, what is wrong with me.

  3. On the final day of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, the editor of one of the country’s leading magazines felt it appropriate to compare President Donald Trump’s inauguration to incestuous rape.

    In a tweet posted Monday afternoon, Virginia Heffernan, a contributing editor for Wired, referred to former President Barack Obama as “our true father” and equated Trump to “a stepfather who was going to rape us”:


    I think she needs to get laid. What a fucked up and strange analogy.

    1. That’s a pretty startling lack of perspective. She should get out, take a hike in the woods on a cool day. Maybe have some coffee with a friend and talk about real stuff (not politics). Maybe do some goat yoga, i dunno.

      1. If nothing else, mix in a fucking decaf. Why is it that every reporter turns out to be a seriously broken and screwed up person whenever the mask slips?

        1. America is going through an anxiety epidemic. There’s likely a lot of broken people out there.

          Re-reading this, and it sounds as if I’m defending journos, when really I just suspect there’s a lot of broken people out there.

          1. There always have been. The problem today is that people break themselves as a way of making themselves feel important. If Trump is just another President who happens to be wrong about some things, then this woman’s opposition to him makes her just another person with an opinion. But if Trump is the evil stepfather bent on raping America, then her opposition to him is of magnitudes greater importance. People build up themselves by building up their enemies, which then has the effect of making them hopeless and angry neurotics.

            Our own Tony is a perfect example of this. The guy is just a neurotic nut. He is that way because he reads mal intent into every action taken by his political opponents and derives his entire sense of self-worth from his politics. What a miserable way to live.

        2. Think about what motivates people to become reporters. You gotta have a driving need to stick your nose into other people’s business, and then shout it to the world after you put your spin on it. Does that sound like something a mentally healthy person would want to do?

          1. Take the exact same motivation and remove most of the shouting and you’ve got a politician.

          2. Fair point. All of the interesting stories involve some kind of human tragedy. What kind of a person wants to go observe and write about human tragedy for a living? Not try to help it or be a part of the situation. Just observe it. And not just that but actively go out and seek it.

    2. +1 Electra complex

    3. The more appropriate rapist stepfather analogy would have been if Hillary won and we got Bill in the White House.

      1. Good point.

    4. Never could understand such adoration or pure hatred of people that you do not know on a personal level.
      Why elevate a former government worker to god like status ?

      1. Me either. And people on both sides do it. People say things like “Trump is a malignant narcissist totally devoid of morality” like it is some self-evident truth. People used to say the same things about Obama. Hold it, you have never met the man. In both cases, their children and wives, and in Trump’s case even his ex wives, seem to like them. I find it hard to believe that either were that bad and none of their family noticed.

        1. This problem of associating your political enemies as not just wrong, but evil, is the worst part of politics. It also is one of the biggest hindrances to progress.

          The vast majority of bad things the government does start out with good intentions. By rewriting history and associating the consequences of those actions with evil intent from the start, it blinds us to the horrible policies of today that will have horrible consequences tomorrow, but currently are pushed by people with good intentions.

          1. We should be so lucky to think that Obama was some evil Manchurian candidate. If that were true, the problem would have ended when he left office. The problem is that Obama did mean well. And he isn’t an evil person. He was just stupid and believed stupid things and did all kinds of harm trying to do what he thought was the right thing.

            1. some of what Obama did was stupid but the other parts were to change America and I agree that his intentions were out of malice but for the good they just weren’t. Now his opinion of those who disagreed with him were out of malice hence the bitter clingers comment

    5. She does make a compelling argument for moving Sexual Assault Awareness Month to every 4th November.

    6. Something something daddy issues.

  4. So at least one government has started to use “fake news” and/or “hate speech” as a way to crack down on anyone criticizing public officials or institutions? Wow! Who could ever have predicted such a thing? Now where did I put that mask that I use for my shocked face, since my own face can’t seem to express even mild surprise anymore??

  5. Like I’ve said from the start, Trump yells “fake news” and insults American journalists, and sometimes he even threatens lawsuits, but he has yet to actually use state power to shut down any speech or intimidate the press. He’s a raging asshole and his rhetoric is indeed dangerous, I will agree. But this is less dangerous than his predecessor, who said super nice things to his adoring fans in the press and promised the most transparent press-friendly press ever, yet turned the his administration into a propaganda factory (banning photographers and journalists from private events so every picture was a staged piece of propaganda, willingly spread by the press he shut out) and threatening to jail journalists for espionage.

    When Trump tries to charge a CNN reporter with espionage, then I will admit Trump is worse for press freedom than Obama.

  6. This is awesome, after eight years in which Blocko Mofo became the first American president to not have 3% economic growth for even one year, the junior grade Blocko Mofolettos are now saying that even if Trump exceeds 3% economic growth this year, it doesn’t really count.

    1. You’re somehow getting worse at nicknames, which shouldn’t be possible.

      1. I think we need to have a bilateral ban on nicknames for your political opponents. People just are not up to doing it anymore. They are never clever. The world will be a much better place without Blockos, Barrack Yomama, Trumpkins, Trumptards, Trumpalos and the rest of the retarded names people have been calling each other in recent years.

        1. I just call them all idiots. “Trump idiots” “Hillary idiots” “Obama idiots”. The personality cultists.

          1. Outside of Obama’s white prog supporters and a certain breed of aging boomer hag who supported Hillary, and the small core of Ron Paul’s supporters there is no such thing as cults of personalities in this country. It is just a slander that both sides like to make against the other. But it is fairly rare.

            1. The use of such nicknames shows a substandard IQ .

            2. There are absolutely Trump cultists. Yes I think the vast majority of Trump voters and supporters fully know who he is and know he’s an asshole who lies but they just don’t give a shit anymore because they hate the press and Democrats far more, and they forgive what he says because of the actual results he gets.

              But then there are people who think he is smarter and better than George Washington.

              1. Well, “think” might be a strong word. But they definitely feel that he’s pretty awesome.

              2. I think most Trump supporters are in the middle. They don’t think he is a total asshole but they don’t think he is smarter than George Washington. I don’t really understand why so many people feel the need to convince themselves he is crazy or stupid when he clearly is neither.

                1. He’s just an asshole. People like him because he directs his assholery to the assholes who are just as big of assholes but are convinced they are righteous warriors fighting evil. And those kinds of assholes have been getting away with shit for too long. I get the “Trump fights back” mentality, even if I don’t think it’s worth it in the long run.

                  1. I go to his hotel in Washington for a drink once in a while. He comes there occasionally for dinner at the steakhouse there. And if you talk to the people who work there, they all say he is extremely nice to the doorman, waiters, bartenders and the rest. They could all be lying but I doubt it. If they hated him, they just wouldn’t say anything. So, I find it hard to believe that someone who is a real asshole would treat people that he has no reason to treat well, that well.

              3. ^ This, plus:
                A lot of the “Trump voters” went into the polling place saying, “I hate to think what Trump will do to the Presidency and the U.S.A., but I’m more afraid of Clinton.”

            3. I’d argue that Bernie Sanders had a cult of personality going through the first half of 2016, which is no mean feat for a guy with no personality.

              Nicknames are fine, and even goofy ones have their place, but Simple Mikey’s monikers barely even rose to the level of abysmally stupid to begin with, and constant, repetitive practice has somehow not brought any improvement.

              1. I will give you Bernie. And actually not having a personality is the easiest way to get a cult of personality. It makes you a blank slate that everyone projects what they want to believe onto.

            4. Trump definitely has a cult of personality among some of his core supporters. Not saying it’s everyone who voted for him, but it’s definitely applicable to some. /r/The_Donald for example.

        2. I’ve come to recognize ‘Trumptards’ as self-referencing or projecting. They’re people who are literally retardedby Trump

  7. The police disagree. So now Sulaiman is going to jail.

    What was the response time for police on Sulaiman?

    1. Measured in microseconds.

    2. Surprisingly quick.

  8. Man goes to jail for complaining about police response times.

    Careful Scott, Statists penises can only get so erect.

    1. Citation? That sounds like it would be hard to prove.

  9. Is Palastein the Jewish neighborhood on Aldous Huxley’s island of Pala?

  10. don’t they know it’s that moment of sincerity after a new government program is implemented but before it gets corrupted (probably by republicans) that distinguishes civilization from, I dunno, uncivilization?

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