NSC Act gazette no good without date, lawyers say

Lawyer New Sin Yew explained that it was not out-of-the-ordinary for enforcement dates to be omitted from an Act that was gazetted. ― File pic
Lawyer New Sin Yew explained that it was not out-of-the-ordinary for enforcement dates to be omitted from an Act that was gazetted. ― File pic

KUALA LUMPUR, June 10 ― National Security Council (NSC) Act 2016 will remain dormant for as long as it is not gazetted with an enforcement date, lawyers said today.

They said the current gazette was issued without stating when the law will come into effect, noting that the requirement was also specifically stated in Section 1(2) of the Act.

“The gazette date is not the coming into force date. So there must be another government gazette to inform the date of coming into force,” Firdaus Husni, the Bar Council’s former constitutional law committee chairman, told Malay Mail Online.

Section 1(2) of the NSC Act states: “This Act comes into operation on a date to be appointed by the Prime Minister by notification in the Gazette.”

Lawyer New Sin Yew explained that it was not out-of-the-ordinary for enforcement dates to be omitted from an Act that was gazetted.

“Even the Sedition (Amendment) Act hasn’t come into force,” he said in a text message to Malay Mail Online.

The NSC Act 2016 was gazetted Tuesday under Article 66(4A) of the Federal Constitution which states that a Bill will automatically become law and will be considered to have received assent from the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, even if he does not expressly give his approval within 30 days after it has been presented to him. The law is not yet in force.

The NSC Act 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 Act, the jurisdiction of the NSC 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.

Critics of the law such as the #TakNakDiktator coalition argue that it usurps the authority of the Yang diPertuan Agong and would confer “dictatorial” powers in the hands of the government.