Controversial National Security Council Bill passed in Malaysia

Controversial National Security Council Bill passed in Malaysia
PHOTO: The Star

THE National Security Council Bill 2015 was passed by Dewan Rakyat, enabling the Prime Minister to declare a security area in the event of threats to national security.

The Bill was passed by voice voting after a heated debate on the last day of the sitting.

Earlier, in his reply, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim chided the Opposition for claiming the law was a "power grab" that would give the Prime Minister absolute powers to declare an "emergency".

"It is not laws to declare an emergency, but a security area," he said, adding that the law differed from the powers of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong who can declare an emergency.

He said the aim of the law was to better coordinate and allow uniform response in the event of a security threat.

He cited the Eastern Sabah Security Zone (Esscom) where the police, maritime enforcement agency and armed forces had operated under separate laws.

"The police and marine have powers to arrest, but the army does not," he said.

He also said that the new law would not prevent a magistrate's court from holding an inquest into deaths occurring in a declared security area.

Shahidan assured lawmakers that the law does not contravene the principles laid down in the Federal Constitution.

Earlier during debates, Lim Guan Eng (DAP-Bagan) urged the Bill to be withdrawn and referred to the Parliament's Select Committee for proper consideration.

Lim said the proposed laws would erode the power of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and the states as it would allow the Government to declare an area as a security area.

Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail (PKR-Permatang Pauh) argued that the law would give absolute powers to the Prime Minister.

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