|Joint Open Letter to the Prime Minister | National Security Council Bill 2015|
|Wednesday, 06 January 2016 01:26pm|
5 January 2016
YAB Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib Bin Tun Haji Abdul Razak
Prime Minister of Malaysia
c/o Principal Private Secretary to the Prime Minister
Office of the Prime Minister of Malaysia
Main Block, Perdana Putra Building
Federal Government Administrative Centre
YAB Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib Bin Tun Haji Abdul Razak,
The National Security Council Bill 2015
The Malaysian Bar, the Advocates’ Association of Sarawak and the Sabah Law Association are seriously concerned with the National Security Council Bill 2015 (“the Bill”) that was passed by the Dewan Rakyat on 1 December 2015 and the Dewan Negara on 22 December 2015.
2. It is worrying that this far-reaching piece of legislation has been hastily dealt with by Parliament despite widespread concerns expressed by various parties. The Government’s refusal to engage meaningfully with critics of the Bill and to properly respond to the mounting criticism of it are regrettable.
3. Further, we are disconcerted that the Government has failed to fully explain the reasons for the Bill. There have been some references to the Lahad Datu incident and the creation of Eastern Sabah Security Command. However, these references are questionable because firstly, the Lahad Datu incident took place more than two years ago. Thus, there was no reason for the sudden rush for this Bill in the past month. Secondly, Article 150 of the Federal Constitution provides for the proclamation of an emergency, which would provide sufficient powers to address any future incidents of territorial incursion, like that of Lahad Datu.
4. We wish to briefly highlight some of our serious concerns on the Bill, as follows:
5. We consider the Bill to be a serious threat to our system of constitutional government. It is apparent that the Bill vests and concentrates enormous executive and emergency powers in the NSC and the Prime Minister. This upsets the delicate separation of powers in the Constitution between the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary on the one hand, and the constitutional monarchy on the other hand.
6. It would appear that the powers are in effect emergency powers, but without the need for a proclamation of an emergency under Article 150. This usurps the powers vested in the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, and effectively resurrects the powers granted to the Government under the Emergency Ordinances, which were repealed by Parliament in 2011.
7. We are aware of the constant refrain that new powers, such as found in the Bill, are necessary to combat the threat of terrorism. However, we would remind the Government that it has more than enough laws giving it powers to address security concerns. The Bill extends those powers even further, allowing the Government to restrict movement, abandon civil liberties, and administer areas centrally and directly, bypassing state and local government. It avoids public scrutiny and proper accountability, and promotes unfettered discretion and an environment of impunity.
8. The Malaysian Bar, the Advocates’ Association of Sarawak and the Sabah Law Association urge the Government to seriously reconsider the Bill and not bring it into force, and to engage with all concerned parties on the proper role and function of the NSC. There are fundamental concerns and consequences associated with the NSC Bill that require careful discussion by, and input from all stakeholders involved. The Government should take a step back to properly address these concerns for the sake of the nation.
Advocates’ Association of Sarawak
Sabah Law Association