The NSC Bill, another midnight shocker

The NSC Bill, another midnight shocker – Aliran

Aliran is shocked that the government of the day has suddenly tabled and passed the National Security Council (NSC) Bill 2015 in Parliament.

The haste with which this unclear bill was passed, without prior consultation with civil society and even parliamentarians, shows a total lack of respect for our constitutional democracy and due process.

At the heart of the bill is the concentration of power in an unaccountable council, headed by the prime minister as chairman, and comprising those who had been appointed by him and reporting directly to him – the deputy prime minister as deputy chairman, the minister of defence, the minister of home affairs, the minister of communications and multimedia, the chief secretary to the government, the chief of defence forces and the inspector-general of police.

Disturbingly, the notion of national security and the scope of authority are not defined and therefore are open to abuse by the NSC.

For instance, the bill allows the NSC to declare any area, say Jelutong, where Aliran is located, a security area for a variety of grounds which may have little do with genuine national security concerns.

Once declared a security area, the security forces deployed “may without warrant arrest any person found committing, alleged to have committed or reasonably suspected of having committed any offence under any written laws in the security area”.

All constitutional guarantees and fundamental rights can be ignored or suspended within that area. This is completely unconstitutional and amounts to a declaration of emergency in a specific area. Worse, NSC may dispense with inquests in respect of members of the security forces and persons killed within the security area as a result of operations in the security area.

In effect, the prime minister, as chair of NSC, may exercise authoritarian emergency powers without the need for a proclamation of emergency under Article 150 of the Constitution. This effectively appropriates the powers of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, again amounting to a violation of our Constitution.

Shame on all those who drafted and helped to pass this dastardly bill through Parliament. This authoritarian piece of legislation clearly runs counter to the democratic process and renders meaningless the notion of constitutional government – as the democratic world understands it – which should provide for checks and balances.

Given that we already have the Prevention of Terrorism Act (Pota), Security Offences Act (Sosma), the Prevention of Crime Act (Poca), the Sedition Act, the Communications and Multimedia Act and the Penal Code – which apparently are to protect our national security, though often abused – why then the need for NSC?

There is no doubt this NSC Bill has nothing to do with the country’s national security.

It has everything to do with protecting the political security of the scandal-ridden Najib administration and of the prime minister himself. It comes at a time when the government’s and the prime minister’s legitimacy is questionable.

The NSC Bill, another midnight shocker – Aliran
6 December 2015


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