Too much executive power in NSC Bill endangers constitutional democracy, Putrajaya told

The three law associations are concerned that after it has been gazetted, the National Security Council Bill would threaten the constitutional system of government. — File pic
The three law associations are concerned that after it has been gazetted, the National Security Council Bill would threaten the constitutional system of government. — File pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 6 — Malaysia’s three law associations pleaded with Putrajaya today to reconsider the National Security Council (NSC) Bill, warning that the proposed law once gazetted would jeopardise the country’s constitutional government system as it concentrated too much power in the hands of the executive.

In a rare joint statement, the Malaysian Bar, the Advocates’ Association of Sarawak and the Sabah Law Association reiterated the concerns that had been raised by other non-government organisations criticising the Bill that the national security council and the prime minister would have power outstripping even the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong in declaring a national emergency.

“We consider the Bill to be a serious threat to our system of constitutional government. It is apparent that the Bill vests and concentrates enormous executive and emergency powers in the NSC and the Prime Minister,” the three groups said in a joint statement.

“The Malaysian Bar, the Advocates’ Association of Sarawak and the Sabah Law Association urge the Government to seriously reconsider the Bill and not bring it into force, and to engage with all concerned parties on the proper role and function of the NSC.”

They also pointed out that for the government to hold emergency powers without the need to declare emergency under Article 150 of the Federal Constitution, it would usurp the authority assigned to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

They added that there were enough laws to deal with terrorism and other security concerns while also pointing out that some provisions in the Bill could restrict movement or civil liberties and ultimately avoid accountability.

The NSC Bill 2015, which was tabled last December, 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 Bill, 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”.

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