The dictatorial NSC Bill – Will there be checks and balances?

Download full text of NSC Bill 2015 here.

Why the NSC Bill should scare the living daylights out of you

5. Will there be checks and balances?

With such great discretionary powers up in the air, can we expect a comprehensive check-and-balance mechanism to ensure there is absolutely no abuse of power? That’s a problematic proposition because, firstly, Clause 11 stipulates that the Council will determine its procedures and how it works on its own.

That means the Council is likely able to decide for itself how it should use its powers – again, much riding on subjective discretion. And then there is Clause 37, which imposes absolute secrecy on any Council member or anyone with any knowledge of information relating to the Council’s affairs.

About this secrecy, Clause 37 does provide exceptions for the purposes of any civil or criminal proceedings, among others, but then again Clause 38 immediately says this:

“No action, suit, prosecution or any other proceeding shall lie or be brought, instituted or maintained in any court against the Council, any committee, any member of the Council or committee, the Director of Operations, or any member of the Security Forces or personnel of other Government Entities in respect of any act, neglect or default done or omitted by it or him in good faith, in such capacity.”

This implies that no court can help you if you have any issues with what the Council or its appointed officers does.

To summarise here, not only do we not know what exactly will be the procedure through which the Council uses its terribly vast discretionary powers and whether these procedures will be reasonable for the public, but we may also not know of any checks and balances the Council decides should be in place because it is allowed to keep things secret.

Unless of course the Council decides in its wisdom that the public should know. What if it decides that the public shouldn’t know in the interest of safeguarding national security?

Why the NSC Bill should scare the living daylights out of you
Khairie Hisyam Aliman
December 3, 2015 – MMO


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