KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 8 — Malaysia does not need a new law like the National Security Council (NSC) Bill 2015 because the Police Act 1967 already allows areas to be designated as emergency zones, Umno vice-president Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal said today.
The Semporna MP also pointed out that in Semporna and Sandakan, both areas in Sabah’s east coast that have seen several kidnappings by militants from neighbouring southern Philippines, certain areas could be declared as prohibited areas and a curfew could be imposed.
“If you want to protect national security, there are many ways of doing it,” Shafie told Malay Mail Online in a joint interview with other news organisations.
“In the [Police] Act, it’s already there,” he added.
The Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom), a government security agency based in the Sabah east coast, was set up in 2013 after the Lahad Datu intrusion by Sulu gunmen.
Shafie said today that the NSC Bill could spark perception that the government was trying to revive the now-defunct Internal Security Act (ISA) that allowed for detention without trial, even if Putrajaya insisted that the proposed law would only be used against terrorists.
“How far can these people be convinced?” the Umno leader questioned.
Civil society and the Malaysian Bar have criticised the NSC Bill that was passed in the Dewan Rakyat last week, expressing concern over the expansive powers it gives to the prime minister and claiming it could allow the violation of fundamental liberties.
Under the proposed law, the NSC, which is to be chaired by the prime minister, will be allowed to take full command of the country’s security forces and impose strict policing of areas deemed to face security risks.
According to the Bill passed last Thursday by the Dewan Rakyat after a marathon seven-hour debate, the NSC’s jurisdiction 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 over 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”.
The Bill also seeks to empower security forces to arrest without warrant and take action against those who do not abide by an evacuation order from a security area, and also carry out searches of any vehicle or premise within the security area without a warrant.