Mat Sabu now says govt rethinking abolishing NSC Act

Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu speaks to the media during an interview session at Wisma Pertahanan in Kuala Lumpur June 28, 2018. ― Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu speaks to the media during an interview session at Wisma Pertahanan in Kuala Lumpur June 28, 2018. ― Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

KUALA LUMPUR, June 28 ― Despite its electoral promise to do away with the National Security Council (NSC) Act 2016, the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government may be keeping the controversial law.

Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu today described the law that had been criticised for giving the prime minister absolute power as a “good vehicle”, which was only made political by the previous Barisan Nasional (BN) administration.

“We are looking to review, because NSC actually is a good vehicle, especially for government officers to serve the government.

“What we have to control is, we don’t want it to become a party's [tool] where we try to instigate, to pressure them to support Amanah or to support Bersatu or to support DAP,” he said in an interview with select media here.

Asked to clarify if this meant the NSC Act will remain or if the government will only be looking to amend select provisions, Mohamad said he preferred a “reshuffle” of the latter.

“We will look into it, whether it is important to stay or we want to abolish it, but for me that is, only to reshuffle a few [legal provisions),” he said.

Prior to the May 9 general election, PH chairman Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said in April that the alliance would abolish several laws if it won and listed the NSC Act, the Anti-Fake News Act 2018, the Sedition Act 1948, the Prevention of Crime Act 1959, the Universities and University Colleges Act 1971, and the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984 as among them.

The NSC Act, which took force in 2015 after it was gazetted without royal assent, provides for the establishment of a National Security Council that would be chaired by the prime minister who would take command of the country’s security forces and impose strict policing of areas deemed to face security risks.

According to the Act, 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 Act 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.

For operational purposes, the Act would provide the NSC’s director-general the power to commandeer any land or building in the security area, and order the demolition of any vacant building that is suspected to be used for reasons “prejudicial to national security”.