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Government redrafts civil protection bill

The government has presented a new draft of its civil protection framework bill to the legislature which no longer refers to “groundless” information or news or those “with ulterior motives”.

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UPDATED: 22 Dec 2023, 5:47 am

The government has presented a new draft of its civil protection framework bill to the legislature which no longer refers to “groundless” information or news or those “with ulterior motives”.

The Secretariat for Security released the new version on Friday in response to criticism by journalists about the original wording of one of the bill’s articles which made it a crime to disseminate “false” information or news or those “with ulterior motives” concerning public emergencies and their related response actions.

The revised version merely refers to “false” information or news that during a public emergency would “objectively” generate public panic.

The Chinese version of the original and revised version of the article uses a term that in Chinese can be translated as news or information (“siusik” in Cantonese). However, in the Portuguese translation, the original version refers to “notícias” (news), while the revised version refers to “informações” (information). The new version of the bill also clarifies that only those who “intentionally cause panic” by spreading “false” news or information within a civil protection context would commit a crime.

According to the statement, which quotes Secretary for Security Wong Sio Chak, the article concerning “false” news or information would only be applicable when the authorities’ civil protection measures have been fully activated such as during the hoisting of the No. 8 or a higher typhoon warning signal, but not, for example, when the No. 3 signal is up.

According to the Macau Post Daily, the revised bill is being reviewed in detail by one of the standing committees of the Legislative Assembly (AL), after its outline was passed by a plenum of the legislature earlier this year. After its revision by the standing committee the bill will be submitted to a plenary session for its second reading and final article-by-article vote.

UPDATED: 22 Dec 2023, 5:47 am

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