No justification to depart from manifesto promise to abolish NSC Act
29 June 2018
Lawyers for Liberty refers to Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu’s statements stating that the National Security Council Act (NSC Act) will be reshuffled.
The NSC Act was gazetted 2 years ago and has always been a source of concern to many. It was passed without justification, publicity or consultation and concentrates extraordinary powers in the Prime Minister and the NSC.
The Act provides for the creation of a Council, which would be chaired by the Prime Minister and allows strict policing of areas deemed to face security issues.
Once the Prime Minister designates such a “security area”, those residing within it are subject to, amongst others, search and/or arrest without a warrant if they are “found committing, alleged to have committed, or reasonably suspected of having committed any offence under written laws in the security area”.
The NSC Act provides for an abuse of powers and its constitutionality continues to be questioned. In broad strokes, the immediately apparent issues are:
- The Act empowers the Prime Minister with powers specifically provided by the Federal Constitution to the DYMM Yang Di-Pertuan under Article 41 (command of the military) and Article 150 (proclamation of emergency); [Clause 18]
- The entire legislation is open-ended and vague in many of its key definitions, and tremendous scope is given to the NSC to determine what constitutes a security issue; [Clauses 4 and 18]
- There are no checks and balances as the role of the other members of the NSC is merely advisory, there is no time limit for the Prime Minister and/or the council to lay the declaration before Parliament and the six months limitation may be renewed any number of times; [Clause 18]
- There will be impunity as the NSC Act gives room for security forces and those in command to act with little to no regard as to legality; [Clause 17, 35, 37, 38, 39, 40 and 41]
Malaysia has a number of legislation to address national security issues, including controversial legislation such as the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2015 (POTA), the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (SOSMA), the Prevention of Crime Act 1959 and the 2012 amendments to the Penal Code.
The NSC Act cannot be saved; it must be abolished, not reviewed or reshuffled, as promised in the Pakatan Harapan manifesto. The Act clearly undermines principles of democracy and the rule of law and has no place in this new Malaysia. No person and/or entity should be given such absolute and unfettered powers.
The PH government must follow through with its promises to ensure that the abuses of the previous regime remain a thing of the past.
There must be cogent reasons and the strongest justification in order to take the serious step of departing from any manifesto promise. In this case, there is absolutely no justification whatsoever!
Lawyers for Liberty