The Malaysian Bar has called on the government to withdraw its tabled amendments to the National Security Council (NSC) Act 2016 and then move to abolish the controversial law.
“Promise 27” of the Pakatan Harapan manifesto made prior to the 14th general election last year, pledged to abolish laws described as “oppressive” and “tyrannical”. Among the laws listed was the NSC Act, which was passed by the Barisan Nasional government in 2016.
“The Malaysian Bar reminds the government that it has more than enough laws giving it more than enough powers to address security concerns.
“If there are gaps in laws to effectively deal with security concerns, existing laws can be amended or appropriate new laws enacted, without recourse to the repressive laws that the government had promised to abolish,” said Malaysian Bar president Abdul Fareed Abdul Gafoor.
“The tabling of the bill to further strengthen the draconian NSC Act can only be understood as an abandonment of Pakatan Harapan government’s election promise as well as its commitment and willingness to bringing forth genuine and positive legislative reform,” he stressed.
He said the abolition of the NSC Act should be done at the next parliamentary meeting.
Abdul Fareed also noted that it would not be the Malaysian Bar’s first time raising concerns over the act passed during the previous BN administration.
“As detailed in the Malaysian Bar’s press statements issued on Dec 3, 2015, and June 15, 2016, the NSC Act is of questionable constitutional validity and violates the rule of law.
“Further, the NSC Act avoids public scrutiny and proper accountability, and promotes unfettered discretion and an environment of impunity,” he added.
Amendments to the NSC Act tabled in the Dewan Rakyat last week, among others, will see the prime minister’s powers stripped while further empowering the NSC.
The NSC (Amendment) Act 2019, if passed, will also see more teeth being added to possible prosecution under the act including for information leaks and non-compliance by individuals.
The Harapan government previously came under fire from some of its own lawmakers when it was revealed that the NSC Act was to be revised instead of repealed.