Thursday, June 9, 2016

The NSC Act 2016 Becomes Law

The National Security Council (NSC) Act 2016 was gazetted on June 07, 2016 – but regrettably, this piece of controversial legislation which gives the government emergency powers had not received royal assent.

The Bill became law at the end of the 30-day period without the Yang di-Pertuan Agong’s express approval, as permitted by Article 66 (4A) of the Federal Constitution. 

The article states that even if a Bill does not receive the King’s formal endorsement, it will automatically become law after 30 days as if the consent was given. As such, royal assent was considered to have been given for the NSC Act on February 18, 2016. Oh shit! 

Last February, the Conference of Rulers had highlighted some provisions of the National Security Council Bill 2015 that should be refined. 

This was conveniently ignored and the NSC Act was tabled without amendments – after it was approved by Dewan Rakyat on December 03, 2015 and Dewan Negara nineteen days later. This was in spite of the admission by the government that there was no internal threat or terror alert in the country. 

Even if there is a need to establish the legal framework for safeguarding the country’s security, critics contend that Malaysia already has existing laws that can be used by authorities such as the Internal Security Act, Security Offenses (Special Measures) Act of 2012 and the Prevention of Terrorism Act. 

The NSC Act proposes to allow the National Security Council – chaired by the prime minister himself – to take command of the country’s security forces and impose strict policing of areas deemed to face security risks. 

According to the said Act, the jurisdiction of the NSC takes effect once the prime minister designates a location as a “security area” – a status that is valid for six months at a time, subject to renewal by the prime minister. 

And once the NSC takes control of a security area, security forces are empowered to search or arrest without warrant any individual “found committing, alleged to have committed, or reasonably suspected of having committed any offence under written laws in the security area”. 

Already, Malaysia’s three law associations – the Malaysian Bar, the Advocates’ Association of Sarawak and the Sabah Law Association – had expressed concern in January about the law vesting “enormous” executive and emergency powers in the NSC and in the prime minister. 

They also pointed out that for the government to hold emergency powers without the need to declare emergency under Article 150 of the Federal Constitution, it would usurp the authority assigned to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong. 

Anyway, the NSC Act will come into force on a date to be fixed by the Prime Minister via notification in the gazette.

I cannot comment. (Shake, shiver, shudder). I am too afraid.

On Wednesday, I was in Jalan Tun Sambanthan 3 in KL’s Brickfields to deliver a speech – it was titled “The Long Ride” from the ‘Storytelling’ manual – as well as to evaluate a speech, also from another Advanced manual. A good meeting overall.

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