Securing freedom

Securing freedom

More than the legal and technical discussion, Wong Sio Chak's proposal to criminalize "fake news" while the state of immediate prevention is activate in sudden public incidents - within the framework of the proposed Civil Protection bill - raised the specter of "mainlandization". However, although far from over, the debate involving jurists, journalists, legislators and the Secretary for Security himself shows positive signs awareness, common sense and negotiating skills.

What was approved at first reading was a rather a vague and dangerous text which posed risks for freedom of expression. The amendments that followed the debate showed a flexible approach that deserves to be praised. By removing the phrase "fake, unfounded or biased news" and replacing it with "false information", Wong Sio Chak recognises journalism; by introducing the "specific intent and objective consequence of those intent on causing public panic ", protects freedom of expression and admits involuntary error. Achievements that are worth fighting for.

Nevertheless, the criminalisation is of such behaviours is still dispensable because the Penal Code already provides for sanctions for misrepresentation with intent and consequences. But after all, a good negotiation is better than the insatiable conflict.

Wong Sio Chak still insists on a negative point. By extending the scope of the Act to "security incidents in society, including internal security, functioning of the economy and sudden security incidents arising from or related to external factors", it opens Pandora's Box to abstract circumstances and abuse of authority. May common sense succeed until the end, also at this point.

There is a spirit behind the scenes of this negotiation that will not be alien to Ho Iat Seng, although being discrete. What is certain is that Wong Sio Chak, who will be part of his cabinet, seems to adopt a tone that best fits the image of the future Executive and the identity of the Second System.

* Global Media Group Administrator and publisher of Plataforma Macau

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