The bill is nothing more than an attempt by the prime minister to usurp more power and centralise that power in himself, says Hakam.
Malaysian civil society organisations view with concern the proposed National Security Council Bill 2015 tabled in Parliament on Tuesday, 1 December 2015 for first reading.
This bill has dire consequences for the people of Malaysia. We object to the manner in which it is being rushed through Parliament. The ramifications of this bill that is being imposed on the people of Malaysia call for further and extensive consideration.
The following are the immediate issues that are apparent:-
a) The constitutionality of the bill in light of Article 150 of the Federal Constitution is highly questionable. Article 150 specifically provides for the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong to issue a proclamation of emergency where public order in the federation or any part thereof is threatened. The provisions of this bill will create a separate mechanism under which the prime minister can effectively proclaim a “security area”. The bill therefore effectively usurps the power of the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong, which will now be effectively exercised by the prime minister;
b) The prime minister is given untrammelled power to declare an area anywhere in Malaysia a “security area”. The role of the other members of the National Security Council is merely advisory. The six months limitation on the declaration is an illusion as the prime minister may, without any consultation, extend the period of the declaration any number of times;
c) Since there already exists sufficient legislation that addresses issues of national security, why is there a need for new laws?;
d) The entire legislation is open ended and vague in many of its key definitions, and tremendous scope is given to the proposed National Security Council to determine what constitutes a security issue [See s18(1)];
e) All the safeguards guaranteed to an ordinary citizen in respect of arrest and search and seizure of property are to be suspended in a “security area”. In other words, there are extensive powers given to the security forces to ignore the fundamental rights, liberties and safeguards of an ordinary citizen in a “security area”;
f) The security forces may also seize and take possession of any land, building or movable property (cars for example) in a security area. They also have powers to destroy any unoccupied building or structure within a security area. Although compensation is payable it is decided by the director general who is unlikely to have any expertise in the matter;
g) There is also a provision that allows the use of reasonable and “necessary” force. What constitutes “necessary force” is not made clear;
h) Incredibly, there is power to dispense with inquests of members of security forces and persons killed within the security area as long as the magistrate is satisfied that the person has been killed in the security area as a result of operations undertaken by the security forces for the purpose of enforcing any written laws. “Any written laws” can include even minor offences;
i) The new law will allow the federal government to compel government entities to report to it, and to furnish information to it. This would allow the federal government to override a state government’s authority;
j) The bill protects the members of the National Security Council and its committee from any civil and criminal proceedings, thus rendering them completely unaccountable for their actions.
Malaysia does not need such a bill as this, which is nothing more than an attempt by the prime minister to usurp more power and centralise that power in himself. This goes against all principles of democracy and undermines the rule of law in the country. It will change Malaysia forever.
We, the members of civil society, therefore demand that all members of Parliament do their duty to the rakyat and the Federal Constitution and oppose this bill. We demand that this bill be withdrawn immediately.
This statement was issued by the National Human Rights Society Malaysia (Hakam) on behalf of members of civil society.