Kuala Lumpur (AFP): Tough new security legislation came into force Monday in Malaysia, with critics saying the “draconian” law threatens democracy and could be used against opponents of the scandal-tainted premier.
The National Security Council Act was pushed through parliament in December by the government of Prime Minister Najib Razak, who has faced calls to resign for more than a year over an huge alleged corruption scandal.
The legislation gives the government power to declare virtual martial law in areas deemed to be under “security threat”.
Critics accused Najib and his government of enacting the law, and other tough recent legislation, to ward off political and legal challenges.
“The law will definitly put fear in people planning to participate in street protests,” said Wan Saiful Wan Jan, head of the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs, a Malaysian think tank.
“The public perception in terms of the timing of the draconian law is that Najib wants the law in order to stay in office.”
The legislation allows a National Security Council headed by the prime minister to essentially suspend civil liberties in designated “security areas”, giving security forces sweeping powers of search, seizure and arrest. Read more