Senators Council head pledges ‘heated debate’ on NSC Bill

Last month, the Dewan Rakyat passed the Bill on a voice vote after the opposition failed to stop the Bill at the policy stage debate in a bloc vote with 107 voting for and 74 against the Bill. ― File pic
Last month, the Dewan Rakyat passed the Bill on a voice vote after the opposition failed to stop the Bill at the policy stage debate in a bloc vote with 107 voting for and 74 against the Bill. ― File pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 16 ― Dewan Negara Council chair Tan Sri Abdul Rahim Abdul Rahman assured the public today that the Senate will have a heated debate on the contentious National Security Council (NSC) Bill 2015.

The Barisan Nasional (BN) lawmaker also vowed to keep in mind public interest and national security without being biased towards the interest of “one person”, without naming names.

“We will debate for national interest without any bias towards any party,” Abdul Rahim told Malay Mail Online when met at Parliament here.

“Yes, we are going to have a heated debate, but as far as I am concerned, a wise debate for the sake of the nation, not for the sake of any one person or any organisation, but for the sake of all Malaysians,” he added.

Abdul Rahim, however, said he believes that the NSC Bill does not confer powers only on the prime minister, saying that other members in the NSC committee will also be governing security matters.

“I don’t think it is absolutely given to one man; there is a committee isn’t it?

“But I honestly have not gone through everything, I have got two more days plus the weekend to go through...as far as I am concerned, I will read the Bill and then come to a conclusion,” he said when asked if he was alarmed at any points in the Bill.

Civil society leaders are sending a memorandum to senators at Parliament today to express their concern over the Bill that they say grants overreaching powers to the prime minister. The Senate is dominated by the ruling BN coalition.

Abdul Rahim said BN senators have yet to meet and discuss the Bill.

The NSC Bill proposes to allow the National Security Council (NSC) — which would be chaired by the prime minister — to take command of the country’s security forces and to 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 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.

Last month, the Dewan Rakyat passed the Bill on a voice vote at the third and final reading at 10.55pm, after the opposition failed to stop the Bill at the policy stage debate in a bloc vote with 107 voting for and 74 against the Bill.

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