Swayed by ‘Hudud’, we got shot by NSC
How many of us realised that the National Security Council (NSC) Bill 2015 was sinisterly being etched as law – paddling us on our behinds – as we vented and raved about the hudud issue – which has yet to be – at the front?
Zakiah Koya, The Heat Malaysia
As the whole country was swayed by the hudud issue, dividing Muslims and non Muslims, supporters and opposers, ruling and opposition coalitions, the NSC Bill which would allow the Prime Minister to declare a state of emergency in an instant with no need to even consult the Yang Dipertuan Agong – should it be applied – was gazetted into law.
Although NSC 2015 was claimed by the government of the day as an effort to clamp down on terrorism, the law has so much potential for abuse that even the Conference of Rulers had stated that they wanted the legislation to be refined.
However, the scarier part now is that this bill is now law without any amendments and without royal assent.
Did the Conference of Rulers deem it to be such a draconian law that it did not even think it is right to give their assent?
The NSC Bill was passed within a mere six hours on the last day of last year’s Parliament session, giving the PM absolute powers to declare emergency through the NSC in the name of national security. The NSC will be made up of PM, the Deputy Prime Minister, Ministers of Defence, Home Affairs, and Communication and Multimedia, Chief Secretary of the Government, Chief of Armed Forces and the Inspector General of Police.
While power is absolute with the PM as head of the council, the NSC can appoint a director of operations, another person who would have wide ranging powers to do almost anything in the name of ‘national security’ – among which allowing him or her to impose curfew, block roads or waterways, arrest anyone and search anything without warrant – even if by mere suspicion.
The NSC is its own check and balance – for it decides and it carries out, and it checks itself. Not to forget the fact that NSC has top immunity and cannot be questioned or sued for its actions. Also, there is a secrecy contract binding the council members, and the council itself has absolute power to do anything it wants in the name of ‘national security’.
According to the gazette published on Tuesday, the bill was declared as assented on Feb 18, 2016, under Clause 4(a) of Article 66 of the Federal Constitution.
Under Clause 4(a), a bill automatically becomes law 30 days after it is presented to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, even if the Agong does not assent.
Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasen of #TakNakDiktator campaign coalition, made up of human rights NGOs, says that Putrajaya’s move to ignore the Conference of Rulers’ concerns should trigger alarm bells.
“The fact that the Royal Assent to the NSC law was acquired via Article 66(4A) of the Federal Constitution should raise alarm bells that the usual process of the DYMM Yang di-Pertuan Agong expressly assenting to bills before becoming law, was not complied with.
“Whilst this is constitutionally permissible, serious questions arise as to why the government has acted so hastily and in defiance of the concerns raised by the Conference of Rulers particularly as the Bill directly impinges on the powers of the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong. More so, as they have acted in complete disregard of the very valid concerns raised by the public with regard to the ramifications of this Act,” says Ambiga.
The immediate public furore when the Bill was first presented was that it erodes democracy completely, paving the way to a complete dictatorship by concentrating absolute powers in the hands of one person.