World Bulletin / News Desk
Malaysia's embattled prime minister will soon be equipped with supreme security powers, with the much criticized National Security Council (NSC) Act coming into force Monday. The Act allows Najib Razak to designate any area as a "security area", where he can deploy forces to search vehicles, individuals or premises without a warrant, and also allows investigators to dispense with formal inquests into killings by the armed forces or police in those areas.
Rights groups said they see the Act as a threat to the country's democracy as it is open to abuse. The chief executive of the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs, Wan Saiful Wan Jan, says the Act is extremely vulnerable, enabling easy manipulation by a sitting prime minister to protect his personal powers. "The civil societies and others are concerned that the NSC can be used against anything that the government is unhappy with, including street rallies, which are the voice of the people," he said.
As an example, he says that under the bill – to be chaired by the prime minister – "if a street rally is scheduled to take place demanding Razak's resignation he can declare the venue of the rally as 'a security area', which means people can be arrested and no one can question the actions".
Razak has been under tremendous political pressure, and calls have been made for him to resign over international probes for corruption into a state wealth fund he heads.
The security area would be valid for six months at a time, subject to renewal by the premier, with forces in the area given sweeping powers, including the capability to arrest and search persons, enter and search premises, and seize property without a warrant. Furthermore, forces will be allowed to use force against persons -- including force amounting to death -- as they deem reasonable and necessary in the circumstances "to preserve national security".
Moreover, the Act grants immunity to members of security forces and personnel of other government entities for their acts in any of the security areas. The NSC Act was gazetted under the federal constitution June 7, although the law did not receive the official consent of the Malaysian King and the country's powerful Conference of Rulers. Via the conference, the rulers had highlighted their unhappiness and demanded for the law to be fine-tuned -- a request seemingly ignored by the government. Both the upper and lower houses of Parliament passed a bill to enable the NSC Act on Dec 22 last year, despite heavy protests from opposition lawmakers and civil society groups.
They alleged that the Bill would grant powers to the prime minister detrimental to the position of the Malaysian King and the Federal Constitution. Razakh, however, has said that his administration would never interfere with the powers of the King or the Conference of Rulers. Minister in Prime Minister's Department Shahidan Kassim says that that the Act would not give the prime minister "dictator-like powers".
"The powers given under the Act will not make the prime minister a dictator, as the power to declare a state of emergency still remain with the Malaysian King," he said on Saturday He underlined that Malaysians must be aware of the threat posed by Daesh and other militant groups in the country, and thus such a law is needed to take control of the situation in such cases.
The United Nations Human Rights Office for Southeast Asia has said provisions under the Act run counter to the requirement to investigate wrongdoing. "We are gravely concerned that the immunity provisions in the Act may encourage human rights violations," Laurent Meillan, OHCHR's acting regional representative in Bangkok, said in a statement this week.
She expressed concern that the Act could also be used to impose unjust restrictions on freedom of opinion and expression and freedom of assembly.
"We call on the [Malaysian] government to revise the Act to bring it in line with international human rights norms and standards," she said. "Furthermore, we encourage the government to allow for an open and transparent consultation process on the provisions in the Act with all relevant stakeholders."
Güncelleme Tarihi: 31 Temmuz 2016, 13:08