NSC Act violates constitution, says ex-judge

Gopal Sri Ram says the act must be repealed but can be redrafted to comply with the constitution if the government wants such a law.

(FMT) – A retired judge has called on the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government to repeal the National Security Council (NSC) Act, following the defence minister’s announcement yesterday that it would be reviewed to ensure that it does not become a political tool.

Gopal Sri Ram said the NSC was unconstitutional and must be repealed as it had bypassed the Conference of Rulers.

He added that a federal law that amended the constitution to do away with royal assent in certain circumstances was itself unconstitutional.

“Also, the NSC is a security statute and must comply with Article 149 of the Federal Constitution,” he said in a statement.

If the government wanted such a law, he added, it must be redrafted to comply with the constitution.

“The previous administration obviously had no respect for the rule of law. The present PH government respects the rule of law. Therefore it should act accordingly,” he said.

Yesterday, Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu said the government would look seriously at the NSC and consider whether to retain or abolish it.

He also made it clear that the NSC should not be pressured or influenced into supporting any political party.

The NSC was established by an Act of Parliament passed in December 2015. It was fiercely opposed by PH MPs who called the legislation a “death sentence” on democracy in Malaysia.

Among other things, the law empowers the NSC to declare a state of emergency in a designated area; grants unprecedented powers to security forces to make arrests and conduct forced evacuation in the area; and grants all members of the council and those operating under it complete exemption from legal liabilities and prosecution.

Former prime minister Najib Razak said the government needed the NSC to provide adequate powers for the security forces and all relevant government agencies to respond to threats to national security.

PH leader Anwar Ibrahim has challenged the legality of the NSC, with the matter now pending in the Federal Court.