KUALA LUMPUR, April 15 — The Malaysian Bar has taken the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government to task for its proposed amendments to the National Security Council (NSC) Act recently instead of abolishing it as promised in its election manifesto.
Its president Abdul Fareed Abdul Gafoor said the Bar was deeply concerned about the tabling of the amendment Bill in Parliament last week to further extend the government’s expansive powers under a law that “has all the hallmarks of authoritarianism”.
“It bears restating that the Pakatan Harapan coalition pledged — in “Promise 27” of its election manifesto for the 14th general election — to abolish laws that it described as ‘oppressive’ and ‘tyrannical’, with the NSC Act being listed as one such law,” he said in a statement last night.
The Malaysian Bar reminded the government that it has more than enough laws to address security concerns effectively.
Fareed added that if there were gaps, existing laws can be amended or appropriate new ones enacted, without recourse to the repressive laws that the government had promised to abolish.
“The tabling of the Bill to further strengthen the draconian NSC Act can only be understood as an abandonment of Pakatan Harapan government’s election promise as well as its commitment and willingness to bringing forth genuine and positive legislative reform.
“The Malaysian Bar urges the government to withdraw the Bill, and to abolish the NSC Act at the very next Parliamentary sitting, in fulfilment of its election promise,” he said.
The proposed amendments sought to give the Yang di-Pertuan Agong the power to declare any area in Malaysia as a “security zone”.
Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had told reporters after the Bill was tabled last Tuesday, that the amendments would prevent the prime minister from using his powers to declare a particular area as a security zone.
“And if somebody who is arrested (in the security zone) dies, there will be no inquiry. So it gives the prime minister the power over life and death of the people. This is terrible, the prime minister should not have that power. The power should go to the King. At least there are certain barriers erected,” he said.
*A previous version of this story contained an error which has since been corrected.