“In exercise of the powers conferred by subsection 1(2) of the National Security Council Act 2016 (Act 776), the prime minister appoints 1 August 2016 as the date on which the Act comes into operation,” said Najib, referring to Section 1(2) that states that the Act will come into operation on a date set by the prime minister.
The NSC Act did not receive express royal assent and was gazetted without amendments despite the Conference of Rulers saying last February that some of the provisions should be refined.
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.
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”.
Malaysia’s three law associations — the Malaysian Bar, the Advocates’ Association of Sarawak and the Sabah Law Association — expressed concern last January about the law concentrating “enormous” executive and emergency powers in the NSC and in the prime minister.
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.