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
KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) – The United Nations’ human rights body said on Friday (July 29)it was “gravely concerned” by a new Malaysian security law coming into force next week that grants the government extraordinary emergency powers.
“We are gravely concerned that… the act may encourage human rights violations,” Mr Laurent Meillan, acting head of the UN Human Rights Office for South-east Asia, said in a statement. He also expressed concern that the act could lead to “unjust restrictions” on free speech and assembly.
“We call on the government to revise the act to bring it in line with international human rights norms and standards,” he said.
The government rammed the National Security Council Act through Parliament last December, giving it powers to declare virtual martial law in areas of the country determined to be under security threat.
But critics of Prime Minister Najib Razak say he enacted the law as ammunition against any moves to oust him over a huge financial scandal.
The law, which comes into force next Monday (Aug 1), allows a National Security Council headed by the prime minister to suspend civil liberties in certain areas, giving government forces sweeping powers of search, seizure and arrest. Read more
KUALA LUMPUR: The Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) has strongly urged the government to suspend the National Security Council Act (NSC) and to consult all stakeholders regarding the many concerns that have been raised.
“We further call for substantial amendments to be made to the NSC Act, so that national security is genuinely balanced with constitutional, democratic and human rights concerns, and institutional checks and balances,” said LFL Executive Director Eric Paulsen in a statement.
LFL expressed shock that the controversial NSC Act has been gazetted to come into force on 1 August 2016 despite very serious concerns raised by stakeholders — civil society, lawyers, elected representatives — and even the Conference of Rulers which had called for certain provisions of the Act to be “refined”. The Act also failed to acquire the Agong’s Assent and was deemed to be passed by Parliament.
If comparisons were drawn between the now abolished provisions of Part III on the Special Provisions Relating To Security Areas of the Internal Security Act 1960, and Part IV on the Declaration of Security Area of the NSC Act, said Paulsen, “they bear such a striking similarity that we can only deduce that the NSC Act was enacted to replace Part III of the ISA”.
More importantly, he said, the powers to invoke the special provisions relating to “security areas” have been shifted from the Agong under the ISA to the Prime Minister under the NSC Act. Therefore, he continued, it’s clear that the Prime Minister under the NSC Act has effectively usurped the powers of the Agong under the ISA (abolished) to declare “security areas”. Read more