Posts Tagged ‘NSC Bill


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.

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


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.

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


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?

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


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).

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


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.

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


Why the NSC Bill is disturbing

Why the NSC Bill is disturbing – Thulsi Manogaran

The National Security Council Bill 2015 was passed by the Senate yesterday. As a young Malaysian, I am disturbed by the way laws are made in our country.

The bill was first presented in Dewan Rakyat on December 1, 2015. This meant that all Parliamentarians first saw the bill on that Tuesday.

To provide an idea, the bill is 33 pages long, contains 44 Clauses and carries serious implications. It was then debated on December 3 for only half a day and passed on the same day.

The way in which laws are made in Malaysia is fundamentally wrong. Just because a bill is debated in Dewan Rakyat and Dewan Negara, it does not mean that democracy is flourishing.

If the finer elements of democracy are not practiced then the debates in these Houses carry no meaning at all to ordinary citizens like me. Effective democracy entails proper debate as well as procedure.

If proper debate is to be effected, Parliamentarians need more time to deliberate on the bills especially one with such dire consequences.

Another important element of democracy is engagement with civil society and public participation in decision making. Can I raise this question to members of the Dewan Negara?

Did you know that more than 22,000 Malaysians have signed a petition against the passing of this bill? Did it not occur to you YB, to investigate in detail why they were signing the petition?

When civil society organisations realised the mishaps in the bill, they attempted to approach members of both houses. The #TakNakDiktator team lobbied at Parliament in the hopes of expressing their concern to MPs.

When Parliament passed the bill without meaningful debate, civil society organisations and the public at large turned to the Senate. The call was for Senate to come to live and oppose the bill for the welfare of the people. So an email was sent to all senators to invite them for a briefing.

However, senator Noriah Mamat called this group as “irrelevant people” when she was clearly annoyed that they were lobbying at Parliament. Shahanim Mohd Yusof raised this issue rather angrily in Senate yesterday.

She questioned how did civil society organisations obtained email addresses of senators. She said, “saya menerima email yang berunsur fitnah dan hasut, siapa yang meyebarkan email dan alamat harus diambil tindakan tegas terhadapnya”.

Senator Khairuddin Abdul Samad termed the NGOs as “Minioriti Jahat”. I quote him verbatim from the Senate yesterday, “Dari mana mereka dapat email kita semua siap dengan alamat , saya takut mereka akan serang rumah saya”.

Dear senators, why should you feel threatened and exposed when you receive emails from members of the public?

Yang Berhormat, did you not realise that your official emails are provided to the public and is displayed on Parliament’s website?

Why the NSC Bill is disturbing – Thulsi Manogaran
23 December 2015 – TMI


European Parliament slams rights abuse

Malaysia a ‘pariah state’, MP says after European Parliament slams rights abuse

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 19 – Malaysia risks being stuck as a “pariah state” if Putrajaya fails to address the concerns that the European Parliament has expressed about Malaysia’s worsening human rights situation, a DAP lawmaker said today.

The European Parliament passed a resolution on Malaysia Thursday that called for the withdrawal of the controversial National Security Council (NSC) Bill 2015 and for the repeal of the Sedition Act 1948, noting a spike in the number of people facing charges or arrest under the colonial-era law.

“If nothing changes in the immediate future, Malaysia risked being stuck as a pariah state as claimed by former Prime Minister [Tun Dr] Mahathir Mohamad,” Bukit Mertajam MP Steven Sim said in a statement.

“All these concerns expressed in the European Parliament resolution on Malaysia are not new. The opposition and civil society in Malaysia have long been fighting an uphill battle against a regime apathetic to the voice of the people.

“Elected representatives and civil rights activists have been incarcerated, and subjected to various abuses by the government in this struggle. The EU resolution only highlights the gravity of the problem at this juncture,” the opposition MP added.

Malaysia a ‘pariah state’, MP says after European Parliament slams rights abuse
December 19, 2015 – MMO


EU deplores deteriorating human rights situation in Malaysia

European Parliament resolution of 17 December 2015 on Malaysia

1. Reaffirms the EU’s strong commitment to the Malaysian people with whom the EU has strong and longstanding political, economic and cultural ties;

2. Deplores the deteriorating human rights situation in Malaysia and in particular the crackdown on civil society activists, academics, media and political activists; expresses concern with regard to the spike in the number of people facing charges or arrest under the Sedition Act;

3. Is particularly concerned about the adoption of the National Security Council Bill and urges its withdrawal; calls on the government to maintain a proper balance between the need to safeguard national security and the imperative to protect civil and political rights;

4. Urges the Malaysian Government to immediately release all political prisoners, including former opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, and to provide them with appropriate medical care, and to drop politically motivated charges, including those against cartoonist Zulkiflee Anwar Haque (Zunar), blogger Khalid Ismath, academic Azmi Sharom, political dissidents Khairuddin Abu Hassan and Matthias Chang, and human rights activists Lena Hendry and Maria Chin Abdullah;

5. Urges the Malaysian authorities to repeal the Sedition Act and to bring all legislation, including the Prevention of Terrorism Act, the Printing Presses and Publications Act, the Communications and Multimedia Act, the Peaceful Assembly Act, and other relevant provisions of the penal code, in line with international standards on freedom of expression and assembly and the protection of human rights; calls on the Malaysian authorities to facilitate peaceful assemblies, and to guarantee the safety of all participants and their freedom of expression across the whole country;

6. Urges the establishment of the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC), as recommended by the Police Commission of Inquiry in 2005, to investigate allegations of torture and deaths in police custody;

7. Underlines the importance of independent and transparent investigations into the graft allegations, and of full cooperation with the investigators; urges the Malaysian Government to refrain from putting pressure on the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission and media;

European Parliament resolution of 17 December 2015 on Malaysia (2015/3018(RSP))


NSC Bill must be withdrawn – International Federation for Human Rights

NSC Bill must be withdrawn – International Federation for Human Rights

The Malaysian government must immediately withdraw the draft National Security Council (NSC) Bill, International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and its member organisation Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram) said today.

If adopted in its current form, the proposed legislation would grant government authorities sweeping and unchecked powers to commit human rights violations with total impunity.

“Under the pretext of fighting terrorism, the Malaysian government is pushing for the adoption of an alarming law that imposes unacceptable restrictions on civil and political rights.

“The government must immediately withdraw the NSC Bill and ensure that future legislation complies with international standards and is drafted in a transparent, inclusive, and participatory manner,” said FIDH president Karim Lahidji.

The NSC Bill, hastily introduced in Parliament by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim on December 1, was approved by the Dewan Rakyat on December 3 by a 107-74 vote at the third and final reading after a six-hour debate.

Dewan Negara, controlled by the ruling coalition Barisan Nasional (BN), is expected to discuss the bill in the current meeting, which runs until December 22. If passed, the bill will be submitted to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong for approval.

The NSC Bill establishes the National Security Council (NSC), a central authority responsible for the oversight of matters concerning “national security” – a concept that the bill fails to define.

The eight-member council, headed by the prime minister, also includes the deputy prime minister, the defence minister, the home minister, the communication and multimedia minister, the chief secretary to the government, the chief of defence forces and the inspector-general of police.

Article 18 of the draft bill authorises the prime minister to declare a “security area” in any area of the country that the NSC considers “is seriously disturbed or threatened by any person, matter or thing which causes or is likely to cause serious harm to the people”.

The declaration of a security area is initially valid for a period of up to six months and may be renewed indefinitely in six-month extensions. The declaration of security areas – and its subsequent extensions – must be approved by both houses of Parliament.

In designated “security areas”, Article 25 of the draft bill gives members of the security forces the power to arrest “any person found committing, alleged to have committed or reasonably suspected of having committed any offence under any written laws” without a warrant.

Similarly, Article 26 gives members of the security forces the power to stop and search individuals and search premises without warrant.

The overly broad criteria that form the basis for the designation of a “security area” make the law subject to abuses in the form of arbitrary arrests and detentions, arbitrary searches and seizures, and restrictions on the right to peaceful assembly.

The draft bill does not contain any provisions to protect the rights of individuals arrested under Article 25, such as the right to be promptly informed of the charges, the right to a lawyer and the right to be brought before a judge.

NSC Bill must be withdrawn – International Federation for Human Rights
18 December 2015 – TMI


Amnesty International urges Senate to reject NSC Bill

National Security Bill puts rights at risk — Amnesty International

DEC 18 — Amnesty International urges the Malaysian Senate to substantially reject the National Security Council Bill (NSC Bill), which was passed by the House of Representatives on 3 December after a hasty two day review.

The Bill provides extensive powers to a Council, headed by the Prime Minister and several other Ministers and officials including the Inspector General of Police, to declare any area of the country a ‘security area’ and to impose curfews, powers of search, seizure and detention in the ‘interests of national security’. A broadly worded provision also authorises the security forces to use such force as the member of the security forces believes is ‘reasonable and necessary’ to preserve ‘national security’.

According to the UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials, security forces must as far as possible, apply non-violent means before resorting to the use of force, and whenever its use is unavoidable they must exercise restraint and minimize damage and injury. They must not use lethal force except in defence against an imminent threat of death or serious injury. These principles apply at all times: public emergency or exceptional circumstances may not be invoked to justify any departure from them. Section 34 of the Bill, however, departs from these standards by effectively allowing the security forces to use force ‘likely to cause death or grievous bodily harm’ in order to protect life or prevent serious injury – without any requirement that such a threat be imminent – or in order to protect a designated ‘security area against a threat of armed attack’.

International law and standards, including the UN Basic Principles, require that all deaths resulting from law enforcement action by the security forces be subject to prompt, thorough and impartial investigation. In a departure from these standards, Section 35 of the Bill provides judicial authorities with the power to dispense with inquiries or inquests where members of the security forces have killed a person in a security area.

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.

Section 18, which provides the Prime Minister with powers to declare a ‘security area’, defines it as an area that ‘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’. These categories are far-reaching and extend to matters which are not solely an issue of national security. Amnesty International is concerned that this power could be used to suspend peaceful protests and criticism of government citing ‘the interest of Malaysia’.

It is vital that authorities comply with their obligations under international human rights law at all times. Only in exceptional instances, if there is a state of emergency threatening the life of the nation, it may be necessary for states temporarily to restrict certain rights in ways which would not be permissible in normal times. However, this law goes much further than permissible under international human rights law by providing for the declaration of ‘security areas’ within the country, where human rights are substantially restricted and where civil and criminal liability of security officials can be removed when someone has been killed ‘as a result of operations undertaken by the security forces’.

National Security Bill puts rights at risk — Amnesty International
December 18, 2015 – MMO

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All that is necessary
for the triumph of evil
is for good men
to do nothing.

- Edmund Burke
When the people
fears their government,
there is TYRANNY;
when the government
fears the people,
there is LIBERTY.

- Thomas Jefferson
Do you hear the people sing?