Posts Tagged ‘Dictatorship

13
Jun
16

NSC Act a leap to dictatorship

NSC Act a leap to dictatorship, groups say

KUALA LUMPUR, June 9 — Human rights groups criticised today the gazetting of the National Security Council (NSC) Act 2016 that they said would lead to a “dictatorship” and a “military police state”.

The #TakNakDiktator coalition, which represents nine groups, also questioned why the government ignored the concerns raised by the Conference of Rulers, especially since the law directly impinged on the Yang di-Pertuan Agong’s powers, by gazetting the NSC Act as law on Tuesday without express royal assent.

“The NSC law represents a leap towards a dictatorship and a military police state with little or no safeguards,” said #TakNakDiktator coalition spokesman Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan in a statement.

“The NSC law represents an extremely dangerous step for Malaysia as it concentrates extraordinary powers in the PM and the NSC. No person or entity should have such absolute and unfettered powers. Concentration of power leads to abuse, particularly in times of political crisis,” she added.

The NSC Act 2016, which grants the government emergency powers, was gazetted under Article 66(4A) of the Federal Constitution which states that a Bill will automatically become law and will be considered to have received assent from the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, even if he does not expressly give his approval within 30 days after it has been presented to him.

Ambiga said the NSC Act was “clearly unconstitutional” and a “grave abuse of power”.

“Malaysia does not need such a law which goes against all principles of democracy and undermines the rule of law in the country.

“In this exercise, this government has behaved as if they are accountable to no-one, neither the Rulers nor the people. The fact that there were no amendments to the Bill is proof of this. If this is not a dictatorship, then what is?” said the former Malaysian Bar president.

The #TakNakDiktator coalition comprises Amnesty International Malaysia, Bersih, the Centre to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4), the National Human Rights Society (Hakam), Pertubuhan Ikram Malaysia (Ikram), Institut Rakyat, Lawyers for Liberty, Persatuan Promosi Hak Asasi Malaysia (Proham) and Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram).

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

According to the 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.

Once the NSC takes control of a security area, security forces will have the right 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”.

Malaysia’s three law associations — the Malaysian Bar, the Advocates’ Association of Sarawak and the Sabah Law Association — said last January that for the government to hold emergency powers without the need to declare emergency under Article 150 of the Federal Constitution, it would have usurped the authority assigned to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

…more
NSC Act a leap to dictatorship, groups say
June 9, 2016 – MMO

29
Feb
16

We’re witnessing emergence of a new dictator, Muhyiddin warns

We’re witnessing emergence of a new dictator, Muhyiddin warns

Suspended Umno deputy president today said Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak is consolidating his power and warned of the making of a dictator.

“In facing the rakyat’s anger against the leadership, Najib is using all the powers he has to suppress dissent and silence critics.

“We are actually witnessing the collapse of democratic institutions and the emergence of a new dictator,” Muhyiddin said in a statement this morning.

Muhyiddin’s statement came after the Umno supreme council yesterday suspended him as the party’s number two leader for his criticism of Najib.

The former deputy prime minister have launched a broadside against Najib after attorney-general Mohamed Apandi Ali refused to prosecute the prime minister for receiving RM42 million from state-owned SRC International and RM2.6 billion from an offshore account.

“The attorney-general is afraid to prosecute Najib simply because he was appointed by the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong on the advice of the prime minister.

“Institutions like the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) and Bank Negara are unable to function properly as they are being pressured by those in power.

“The National Security Council Act is made to grant the prime minister powers to declare “security zones” which have the same impact as declaring an emergency,” said Muhyiddin.

Muhyiddin said this is amid the closing of democratic space in the country.

“Day by day the country’s credibility and image are increasingly affected.

“The economy is uncertain and the rakyat is faced with the rising cost of living, while the democratic and freedom space is shrinking.

“Those who are vocal in criticising the prime minister are arrested under security laws, news portals are blocked and dissenters are pressured with various threats,” he said.

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We’re witnessing emergence of a new dictator, Muhyiddin warns
27 Feb 2016

11
Jan
16

We’re turning back human rights clock if NSC Bill becomes law, says Hasmy

Putrajaya will be turning back the country’s “human rights clock” if the National Security Council Bill becomes law, outgoing Malaysian Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) chairman Tan Sri Hasmy Agam says.

In an interview before the end of his tenure in April, Hasmy said the state of human rights in the past five years has not changed, as positive strides such as repealing the Internal Security Act, (ISA) were subsequently nullified by enacting newer laws that choked civil liberties.

Hasmy’s comments cap a dark year for the state of Malaysia’s human rights as Putrajaya strengthened laws which further stifled free speech and authorities expanded crackdowns against critics of the Najib administration.

“As for now, I’m afraid we are not making much progress. While there were some positive developments, such as the removal of ISA, there have also been developments that are putting back the human rights clock.

“(These include) the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2015 (POTA) and the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act (Sosma), along with the continuation of the Sedition Act (now strengthened) and the passage of the NSC Bill.

“If the bill becomes law, it will put us as a nation even further back when the rest of the world is moving forward in the context of human rights and good governance,” Hasmy told The Malaysian Insider.

The NSC Bill, which was bulldozed through the Dewan Rakyat and passed by the Dewan Negara, allows the council chaired by the prime minister to declare security zones.

This power has been described by civil society as “emergency-like powers” and contravened the Federal Constitution, since only the Yang di-Pertuan Agong has the power to declare an emergency.

Critics say the security bill gives unfettered powers to a sitting prime minister without the need to get a royal consent during national crises.

The council can also authorise searches, seizures of property and arrests in security areas without warrants.

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We’re turning back human rights clock if NSC Bill becomes law, says Hasmy
3 January 2016 – TMI

06
Jan
16

NSC Bill – Najib the bold turned into Najib the brazen

Malaysia: Najib Doubles Down

The government is close to introducing a controversial new security law.

“Najib the bold,” The Economist declared in 2011 when Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak announced that his government would repeal the Internal Security Act, a draconian law used to detain dissidents without trial. Across the Causeway, Singaporean activists heralded the move, pointing to Najib as an example for the Singapore government to follow.

No one expected then that a mere four years later Najib would introduce a piece of legislation that would even surpass the Internal Security Act in catapulting Malaysia back to the authoritarianism of the Malayan Emergency era – a period when the colonial British government waged a tough war against the communists.

The National Security Council Bill (NSC Bill) was introduced in the Dewan Rakyat during the final days of parliamentary sittings, and was passed on December 3 in a bloc vote. Its passage has sparked an outcry from Malaysian civil society amid ongoing discussion of the country’s fast-eroding civil liberties.

“The issue just came out of the blue,” Eric Paulsen, Executive Director of Lawyers for Liberty, told The Diplomat. “The first time anyone heard of it properly was when they left the bill for the members of parliament to deliberate… It just came out of the blue, there was no discussion publicly and everyone was caught by surprise.”

The bill allows the prime minister the power to designate any part of Malaysia – perhaps even the entire country – as a “security area.” Once designated a security area, members of the Malaysian security forces, from the police to the military, are allowed wide-ranging powers to detain, search, arrest, exclude and even use force on individuals, vehicles and property. The suspension of civil liberties, usually only allowed when the Agong or king declares a state of emergency under the Federal Constitution, will be able to be enforced without involving the head of state.

“Najib the bold”, it appears, might have turned into Najib the brazen.

The timing of the bill, too, has drawn suspicion. Exposés in the media about the debt-ridden 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), a strategic development company owned by the government and founded by Najib himself, have raised questions about corruption and a lack of transparency. A sum of RM2.6 billion ($700 million) in the prime minister’s personal bank account has also attracted allegations of fraud. Najib claims the amount comes from a donor in the Middle East, but he and his party are still on shaky ground. Critics have suggested that the NSC Bill is a desperate move to hold on to power no matter what.

“In England if a prime minister received RM2.6 billion into his personal accounts, he or she would have done the honorable thing and resigned,” Dr. Bridget Welsh, professor of political science at Ipek University, told The Diplomat. “This is the lesson Najib should have taken. Instead of respecting the rule of law, it would appear that Najib has constructed the law to his own purposes through the NSC.”

“Questions have been raised, especially about why now, out of the blue, at a time when UMNO is at its weakest and the threat of losing power is very real. The PM is hit with the 1MDB scandal with the lowest approval rating ever. So questions must be asked as to whether this is one way for him to hold on to power,” Paulsen said.

Civil society actors justify their skepticism by pointing to the detention of former UMNO leader Datuk Seri Khairuddin Abu Hassan and his lawyer Matthias Cheng under the 2012 Security Offences (Special Measures) Act. Both were charged with attempted sabotage of Malaysian economy simply because Khairuddin had lodged reports against the beleaguered 1MDB to foreign authorities in countries like Switzerland, France and Singapore. The two were released on bail after the High Court ruled in November that they had not committed a security offence, but activists say their case demonstrates a willingness by the government to twist the definition of “national security” to suit their own needs.

“Any power without any checks and balance and this particular act would give the PM almost absolute power to use emergency powers during peace time. … It is conceivable for him to say that Parliament is a security area, Putrajaya around his house is a security area, and of course, if there is a Bersih this whole KL central could become a security area,” Paulsen said.

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Malaysia: Najib Doubles Down
The government is close to introducing a controversial new security law.
By Kirsten Han
December 25, 2015 – The Diplomat

04
Jan
16

How the world views Malaysia with NSC


When the National Security Council Bill 2015 was bulldozed through in Parliament, it prompted an outcry for its undemocratic, autocratic and despotic elements — among them an absolute power granted to the prime minister and immunity to legal prosecution — and it also led to several international bodies stating their concern.

The Human Rights Watch (HRW), the European Parliament and the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) all described the Bill as a threat to democracy and it creates a real risk of abuse.

In a report by The Guardian, the HRW noted: “Now we know what the path to Malaysian dictatorship looks like. The law is far broader than can be justified by any real threat to Malaysia’s national security, and creates a real risk of abuse.”

The European Parliament on Dec 17 passed a resolution on Malaysia, calling for the immediate withdrawal of the Bill.

The ICJ in a statement said: “The ICJ deplored the manner in which the government steamrolled the bill to passage… The ICJ considers that the poorly conceived legislation gives over-broad powers to the prime minister and the security forces which is inconsistent with the rule of law and could lead to serious human rights violations.”

International rights group Amnesty International said: “Amnesty International fears that the new provisions will further entrench the climate of impunity within the security forces, in particular the Malaysian police.

“There has been practically no accountability for numerous cases of deaths in custody, unlawful killings, and torture and other ill-treatment by the police in the last decade.”

Clearly, the world has spoken and found the Bill wanting. From outside looking in, I see that even the most detached of world powers are viewing Malaysia as a concern.

But do those words of advice, so useful for a teenager, apply to a country trying to establish itself as a high-income, first-world nation? No.

Malaysia cannot dismiss the international community’s opinions, and in the economically sensitive global power-play, she must rely on being well-liked and popular in order to secure economic stability; or risk becoming a ‘pariah state’, as was pointed out by Bukit Mertajam MP Steven Sim recently.

More importantly, still, is what her own people think of her. Where is the Malaysia that thrived on acceptance and democracy? How did we go from being an example of peace and multi-ethnic harmony to the world — as we were taught in school — to an example of what not to do?

If the world saw Malaysia as a non-tolerant, overtly religious, corrupt and autocratic nation, would anyone then want to be our ‘friends’? How would it impact our dealings globally, economically and socio-politically?

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How the world views Malaysia with NSC
Dec 27, 2015 – The Heat Malaysia

29
Dec
15

Make no mistake – NSC Bill is a grab for absolute power

COMMENT The Senate (unsurprisingly) passed the National Security Council Bill 2015. This, despite senators from both sides of the political divide voicing a range of concerns about it. That did not stop the government from pushing the bill through without compromise.

Lawyers and activists across the nation have been warning for weeks of the dangers of the bill and how it violated the federal constitution and the sanctity of the rule of law. It would have been in the interests of the nation to have had further discussion on it.

Yet the government remained stubborn and did not even show a willingness to listen to reason. What we had was a government acting in haste, willing to overlook clear constitutional and legal impediments to the bill, and taking the attitude that they know best.

This should have triggered alarm bells. It was therefore irresponsible to say the least, to deliver them this bill, unaltered.

Make no mistake. This bill gives absolute power to the prime minister to declare an area a ‘security area’. Once an area has been declared a ‘security area’ it becomes a legal black hole.

Anything can be done there by the security forces including arrest, seizure of property and even killing, without any of the usual legal safeguards.

“It is absolutely untrue that the prime minister has absolute power” thundered the bill’s proponents. But the clear wording of the bill contradicts them. They are set out below for the readers to judge for themselves.

Section 18(1) provides: Where the council advises the prime minister that the security in any area in Malaysia is seriously disturbed or threatened by any person, matter or thing which causes or is likely to cause serious harm to the people, or serious harm to the territories, economy, national key infrastructure of Malaysia or any other interest of Malaysia, and requires immediate national response, the prime minister may, if he considers it to be necessary in the interest of national security, declare in writing the area as a security area.

Section 18(3) provides: A declaration made under subsection (1) shall, but without prejudice to anything previously done by virtue of the declaration, cease to have effect upon the expiration of six months from the date it comes into force.

But Section 18(4) goes on to say: Notwithstanding subsection (3), a declaration in force may be renewed by the prime minister from time to time for such period, not exceeding six months at a time, as may be specified in the declaration.

The upshot of these three provisions is that the council’s role is merely advisory, and the prime minister is not obliged to take their advice. Furthermore, the prime minister, without reference to the council, may in his sole discretion extend the declaration ad infinitum.

If this is not absolute power in the hands of the prime minister, then what is? If one studies the bill carefully, it appears to provide ‘checks and balances’, but on closer scrutiny we can see they are anything but that.

Surely giving one person all powers over security with no checks and balances does not enhance security but could in fact compromise security.

The claim that there is parliamentary oversight is equally flawed as clause 18(6) only requires that the declaration be laid (not debated) before Parliament, as soon as possible after it has been made (which is any time).

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Make no mistake – NSC Bill is a grab for absolute power
Ambiga Sreenevasan
24/12/15 – malaysiakini

27
Dec
15

NSC Bill issue: Every legal power must have legal limits

VIEWPOINT: The proposed National Security Council (NSC) Bill 2015 takes away all constitutional guarantees and fundamental rights of citizens in respect of arrest, search and seizure of property which (if passed) can be ignored or suspended.

“This is a grave infringement of the Federal Constitution,” argued Malaysian Bar Council president Steven Thiru, adding the powers and independence of federal ministries, government departments and its agencies would be restrained and compromised on operations or matters concerning national security.

This means instrumentalities of the federal government or state governments – which could include Bank Negara Malaysia, the Securities Commission and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission – would be made subservient to the NSC.

NSC members are appointed by and report directly to the prime minister. It’s not an independent body and would function at the dictates of the prime minister.

“The NSC’s scope of authority is broad, as “national security” is not defined in the bill. This provision is open to abuse, as the NSC would be able to treat almost any matter as one of national security,” Thiru said.

By definition, the NSC is empowered to advise the prime minister to declare any area in Malaysia as a “security area” if the NSC is of the view that the security in that area is “seriously disturbed or threatened by any person, matter or thing which causes or is likely to cause serious harm to the people, or serious harm to the territories, economy, national key infrastructure of Malaysia or any other interest in Malaysia, and requires immediate national response.”

“The provision gives the NSC (and in effect the prime minister) extremely broad discretion to declare an area as a security area given the variety of circumstances, which may not be genuine national security concerns at all, such as peaceful public rallies or protests,” he warned.

The declaration is for an initial six months and “may be renewed by the prime minister from time to time for such period, not exceeding six months at a time.”

This unbridled power allows the prime minister to extend the period for an unlimited number of times.

Upon a declaration, the NSC may issue executive orders that would include the deployment of security forces (such as the police and the armed forces) in the security area and may appoint a director of operations answerable only to it.

The bill does not provide for the qualifications of the director of operations, who has enormous and unrestricted powers, such as the power to remove any person from the security area, impose curfew, and control movement of persons or vehicles.

The deployed security forces, “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.”

Further, there is power to dispense with inquests in respect of members of the security forces and persons killed within the security area, as long as a magistrate “is satisfied that the person has been killed in the security area as a result of operations undertaken by such forces for the purpose of enforcing any written laws.”

These powers are in effect emergency powers, but without the need for a proclamation of an emergency under Article 150 of the Federal Constitution. This usurps the powers vested in the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, and violates the provisions of Article 150.

The bill is therefore of questionable constitutional validity.

The Malaysian Bar urged the government to withdraw the bill and to respect the rule of law and Federal Constitution.

…more
NSC Bill issue: Every legal power must have legal limits
by K Harinderan
22 Dec 2015 – Ant Daily




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